Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Barnes

Wreaths Across America to lay wreaths at D-Day headstones in Normandy

November 08, 2018 - 12:54 pm

For the first time ever, 9,387 American headstones at the Normandy American Cemetary in France will be draped with New England balsam wreaths this holiday season.

Wreaths Across America announced today that French authorities have given them permission to place the nearly 9500 Maine-made wreaths on the headstones on December 1, 2018.  It's been no easy task, since the wreaths are American-made, they had to pass phytosanitary testing.  If you've ever travelled internationally, you know that countries often restrict what agriculture can be brought in.

The Normandy American Cemetary and Memorial - located in Colleville-sur-Mer, France - is near the Allied Forces landings on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  The 9,397 buried Americans lost their lives in the most famous battle of WWII, the one which turned the tide on the war.  It is one of 14 American World War II military cemetaries on foreign soil.  The cemetary is famously depicted in the 1988 movie Saving Private Ryan, when World War II veteran Private James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon) visits the grave of his friend, Captain John Miller (played by Tom Hanks).  Miller and his grave are fictional, though the story is based upon the story of the Niland Brothers, two of whom are  actually buried in the cemetery.

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace

If you have a family member who served at Normandy or during the D-Day invasion, you might win a chance to be there for the event:

The December wreath-laying event is a joint collaboration between the Normandy American Cemetery and American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) and will include ceremonial wreath placements on each of the five D-Day invasion beaches, at Pointe Du Hoc, and include a Canadian Wreath presentation.

In 2017, Wreaths Across America placed over 1.5 million wreaths on veteran's headstones at 1,433 locations.   You can volunteer to help place wreaths by clicking here.

Next June marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day.