Volunteers and Arlington National Cemetery employees participate in the Wreaths Across America’s cleanup day, commonly known as Wreaths Out, at Arlington National Cemetery Jan. 19, 2019. Photo by Elizabeth Fraser

Arlington National Cemetery closed to public for Wreaths Out

Arlington National Cemetery will close from Thursday through Saturday to conduct safely the removal and recovery of approximately 267,000 wreaths, which honored the nation’s heroes and their Family members this past December.

Wreaths-Out, the traditional event in which thousands of volunteers come to assist with the removal of the wreaths, will not be open to the public this year. Instead, only detailed military personnel and civilian employees from the National Capital Region, as well as ANC and Wreaths Across America staff, will assist with the clean up. Extensive logistics, use of specialized and heavy machinery and personal safety necessitate these restrictions.

“We’ve heard from many dedicated and recurring Wreaths-Out volunteers who for many years have shown their support to help with wreath removal, and we want to thank them for their continual dedication,” stated Charles “Ray” Alexander, superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery. 

Scheduled funerals will continue, and only funeral attendees will be permitted into the cemetery with their vehicles.

Family pass holders may still visit their loved ones during this time, but will not be able to participate in wreath removal. Family pass holders will not be able to drive through the cemetery, although they will be able to visit their loved ones’ graves on foot. They may park in the ANC parking garage or use public transportation, and enter the cemetery through the Welcome Center.

The Welcome Center will be the only entrance available for anyone entering the cemetery.

“ANC is ensuring the health and safety of all of our service members and civilians so that we will always be able to support our primary mission of laying to rest those few who have served our nation with dignity and honor, while immersing visitors in the cemetery’s living history,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director, Office of Army Cemeteries and Army National Military Cemeteries.

The cemetery is complying with Department of Defense directives and supplemental “Force Health Protection Guidance for the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak,” and with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for this virus. The health protection of the workforce and visitors are a top priority, and ANC maintains its commitment to honor the nation’s veterans who rest on these iconic grounds.

The cemetery will reopen to the public on Sunday. Please visit ANC’s website for the most updated visitor information, as well as COVID-19 policies and procedures. Individuals may also follow ANC on social media @ArlingtonNatl, or contact the call center at (877) 907-8585.