On Saturday, December 17th, National Wreaths Across America Day took place all over the country. This is a widely known event across America where volunteers lay fresh, balsam wreaths on the graves of fallen United States Veterans. You can volunteer by helping to lay the wreaths or you can sponsor wreaths so there are enough to cover each grave across 3,400 sites in all 50 states.
Since we are in Richmond and there are several local cemeteries that host Wreaths Across America, I took my family to volunteer at the Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia (VAVCAM), Virginia, about 40 miles west of Richmond. Cars were lined up for miles along the highway as volunteers were walking significant distances to be able to participate in the wreath-laying ceremony. There was also a parade of hundreds of motorcycles that were driven by many veterans.
During the kickoff ceremonies, FF1 Andrew James Schmitz was honored. On September 18, 2019, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) identified the remains of Fireman 1st Class Andrew James Schmitz, missing from World War II.
Schmitz entered the U.S. Navy from Virginia and was aboard the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) during the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. He was killed in the attack, and although his remains were recovered from the ship following the incident, they could not be identified at the time and his remains were buried as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. In 2015, advances in forensic techniques prompted DPAA to exhume and reexamine unknown remains associated with the Oklahoma, and laboratory analysis led to the individual identification of Schmitz's remains.
Schmitz is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
To read the news release of Schmitz identification, click here.
One thing that caught my attention was how the wreaths made their journey all the way to Virginia. A driver from M&M Transport Services, Inc. donated his time and fuel and drove through the night from Maine to transport all of the wreaths to the Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia (VAVCAM). There were a total of 6,927 wreaths sponsored at this location.
Written by Faith Jenkins