Wreaths Across America: Volunteers honoring veterans this December

Kitty Woodward, left, and Janis Remy are avid supporters of the military. The two are members of the Paradise Valley DAR. (Dennis Murphy/Contributor)

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Paradise Valley Daughters of the American Revolution members Kitty Woodward and veteran Janis Remy are avid supporters of the military. 

This fall and winter, the two are honoring veterans by placing wreaths of remembrance on graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona as part of Wreaths Across America on Saturday, December 17.

At the North Phoenix cemetery, at 23029 N. Cave Creek Road, volunteers like Woodward and Remy will transform the colors of the desert to those of green and red.

The public ceremonies around the world are held at noon Eastern Time Arlington, Virginia, or 10 a.m. in Phoenix.

Wreaths are $15, and if they’re purchased through the Paradise Valley DAR, $5 is returned to the chapter. They use those funds purchase additional wreaths and for other veterans projects. Wreaths must be ordered by Monday, November 21, via wreathsacrossamerica.org/AZ0025P (location ID #AZNMCP). Order forms can be requested through waa@paradisevalleydar.com. The DAR’s goal is 500. The women are attempting to set up tables in area stores to boost sales. They are confirmed to have one at the National Memorial Cemetery on Veterans Day.

Locally, more than 14,000 wreaths have been placed at the National Cemetery. 

“But there are more than 70,000 graves, so we would love to see more graves receive a wreath,” says Woodward, co-chair of the Paradise Valley DAR chapter’s Wreaths Across America committee. 

When the public purchases wreaths, they can request them to be placed on a specific grave.  

“This year, we have some special, grave-specific nametags that we’re going to put on the wreaths,” she says. 

Remy adds, “It has their name and who sponsored the wreath.

“We had such great feedback last year from that that we had to continue. I’m a veteran myself. I just have it in my heart for these veterans. This is just such a wonderful thing for me to be involved in. My father was a veteran. He served in the Canadian Air Force as a pilot trainer. I always knew I wanted to do something for my country, but I was able to serve. I was in the Army Reserves as a first lieutenant, went through officer candidate school. I had a blast.”

Woodward raised her children when she was younger but serves her country this way. 

“It’s my way of serving the country and honoring the veterans who served and gave up their lives,” she adds. “It makes me feel like I’m part of the United States.”

Wreaths Across America started as a simple gesture of thanks, which grew into a national movement of dedicated volunteers and communities. More than 2.4 million veterans’ wreaths were placed nationwide in 2021. This year, there will be more than 3,100 participating locations placing veterans’ wreaths by more than 2 million volunteers.

The DAR is an organization devoted to preserving American history and offers programs to promote patriotism and completes community service projects. DAR members can trace their lineage to ancestors who served in the American Revolution.  

National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in North Phoenix is one of three in Arizona, with the others in Prescott and Tucson.

“It’s important to note that we’re not decorating the graves,” Woodward says. “We are here to remember not their deaths, but their lives.”

Wreaths Across America

WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday, December 17

WHERE: National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, 23029 N. Cave Creek Road

COST: $15 for a wreath

INFO: Visit the following websites: wreathsacrossamerica.org/AZ0025P, waa@paradisevalleydar.com