Veterans’ graves to be decorated with wreaths during annual event

Thousands of wreaths with a big red bow will soon cover fallen veterans’ graves at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls.

As the sun rises Saturday, Dec. 14, several semi-trucks loaded with wreaths to be placed on the veterans’ graves in a few hours. Dozens of volunteers will be on hand to unload and stage the wreaths in the various sections at the cemetery. Preparations will be under way to prepare hot beverages and refreshments for the many people that will arrive shortly to assist in the ceremony and wreath laying.

Shortly after noon, the task will be complete. A sea of fresh Balsam wreaths with a big red bow will cover all the veterans’ graves.

“The task of providing the several thousand wreaths gets larger each year as there are between three and 400 interments there each year,” said John Thomas, president of the organization that has assumed the primary responsibility for executing this monumental task.

“One of the questions we receive is where do the wreaths come from,” said Thomas. He said the wreaths come from as far north as Shelvin down to Big Lake, where people are harvesting the boughs and making the wreaths.

“The last few years we have made it possible for families to request a specific wreath to honor a family’s loved one at the cemetery. Upon providing us with the veterans name and date of birth, we look up the exact location in the Nationwide Gravesite Locator,” said Thomas. “A specific procedure has been developed to insure the named veteran will receive a wreath in honor of their family. To the best of my knowledge we are the only organization in the country that is providing this service for the fallen veterans families and friends.”

Everyone is invited to the ceremony and wreath placement. It is suggested people arrive before 10 a.m. to get parked and warm up inside before the ceremony starts at 11 a.m. sharp. Wreath placement begins at about 11:20 a.m.

Those that would like to make a general donation may contribute to the wreath general fund. Information is on the web site. Everyone is invited to participate in the wreath-laying ceremony.

For additional information, contact Thomas at (218) 829-6622 or visit, a tax exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.