Wreaths Across Canada has chosen to place a wreath on the headstone of every veteran buried in the National Military Cemetery, Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa the first Sunday of every December at 1:30PM. “It is our fervent hope that this practice will spread across Canada and that eventually every Military Cemetery will be adorned with wreaths, each and every year. This simple but effective, thank you is central to the entire program. The wreaths symbolize our thanks to those who have served their country in the military and now lie at rest. Whether they died in battle, training accidents or years after retiring from the military, all who lie buried in these hallowed grounds deserve the thanks of a grateful nation for defending the freedoms and lifestyle we enjoy today. It is our way to remember and honour those who served and teach our youth of Canada, the value of freedom. It is a deeply personal way for any Canadian to say thank you for your service to Canada,” said Craig McPhee founder of Wreaths Across Canada.
A large part of WOC efforts are directed toward young Canadians. “We are working with Ottawa area school boards to develop a program that may offer a modest bursary or prize each year to a deserving grade 10 student. The initial concept was to research and report upon a veteran buried in the NMC. However, this program is very complex to establish and requires the direct collaboration of the school boards, Public Archives Canada and adequate funding. As part of our mission to teach Canadian youth the value of freedom, it is still under development and is not mature enough to unveil,” said McPhee.
They need the public to lend a hand at 1:30PM on the first Sunday of each December. “We will be placing real balsam wreaths on the graves of close to 3,000 veterans at the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa. We invite everyone, veterans, military personnel and the public to come to Beechwood and show that you care. We sing Oh Canada, pray together, then get to work. You will never forget the sight of these beautiful wreaths adorning the rows and rows of military headstones,” said McPhee. No preparation is required. “Just dress warmly. Team leaders and cadets will be on hand to guide you and show you what to do. The wreaths will be distributed following the brief ceremony. All we need is half an hour of your time. Please bring your children and help teach them the value of freedom because it is for them that we remember and honour the sacrifice of our military heroes. The other way to lend a hand is by sponsoring a wreath.”
Wreaths Across Canada Inc. is a non-profit organization started in 2007 by Craig McPhee, a veteran of the Canadian Forces. It is based on the Wreaths Across America organization that started in 1992 at Arlington Cemetery and has now spread to 300 military cemeteries in the United States. After a visit to Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC, McPhee was moved by how American servicemen and women are honoured each December by the placing of a wreath at the base of headstones. Wreaths Across America is the organization responsible for the annual commemoration. After three years of hard work to gain support and approval, McPhee’s dream of creating an organization to honour deceased Canadian veterans was been fulfilled. Wreaths Across Canada Inc., is a registered Canadian Charitable Corporation with a Board of Directors. WOC mission is to remember the contributions of Canadian military personnel who lie in military cemeteries across Canada. Their objective, to honour those who served in Canada in war and in peace as members of our military forces, and to teach Canadians, particularly Canadian youth, the value of sacrifice paid for the preservation of freedom and democracy in Canada.