I had the privilege of laying wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery last Saturday. As an Air Force museum curator and advocate for enlisted history, I had a list of Airmen that I wanted to visit while I was at the cemetery. Despite being ready to walk miles in the rain laying wreaths, I wasn’t ready for the emotional reaction I had to visiting some of these graves. I started crying at the headstones of Airmen I had met and those I’d never met. I was truly surprised by my tears.
After the emotional morning, I did a little digging on the history of the Christmas wreath.
– Wreaths are typically evergreen as a symbol of the strength of life
– Holly symbolizes immortality
– Cedar symbolizes strength and healing
– Red of the ribbon is the bloodshed (some say by militaries; others by Christ)
– In ancient Rome & Greece, wreaths were a sign of victory of achievement
– By the 16th century, Christians in Germany used wreaths as the hope in Christ
All of these facts about the Christmas wreath seem so fitting for the fallen heroes at our National Cemeteries.
Wreaths Across America is a non-profit organization that started in 2007 as a means to honor our fallen war heroes at National Cemeteries. Each year they coordinate the wreath-laying in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and 24 countries around the world. https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org
Their mission includes three simple words:
Remember. Honor. Teach.
In remembering fallen military members at Arlington in learning the meaning of the wreath, I found that I focused on the three-word mission statement. “Remember. Honor. Teach.”
Beautiful words about our military members, which are also applicable to our Christian faith.
As we head into the final weeks of madness leading to Christmas, let’s take a moment to reflect this week on what God did for us by allowing his only Son to come to earth to die for us. Let’s remember, honor and teach this Christmas season.