May 20, 2022

Volunteers redo thousands of wreaths for veterans’ graves at Ottawa Cemetery

It was quite a spectacle at the National Military Cemetery, as people gathered to lay wreaths on the headstones of those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces.

It happened less than a week after 3,000 wreaths were stolen from Beechwood Cemetery.

Wreaths Across Canada organizers say that with the help of volunteers, they were able to redo wreaths and move forward with Sunday’s ceremony.

At Beechwood National Military Cemetery in Ottawa’s east end, handmade wreaths lie in front of the headstones of those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Jan Ayers took a moment to pay his respects.

“I have friends who are sadly buried here and I think that’s something we should be doing to honor veterans,” said Ayers, a fifth-generation serviceman.

Ayers joined other military families Sunday in a ceremony recognizing veterans and those who served our country before laying a personalized wreath on her father’s headstone.

“We are moving from Remembrance Day to Christmas and we want Wreaths Across Canada to be a stamp to say, ‘Celebrate, commemorate. ,” said Cyndi Mills, President of Wreaths Across Canada.

It was an emotional day for many who attended, according to Mills the event was nearly ruined.

“We were notified Monday morning that they had been stolen,” Mills said.

About 3,000 crowns were taken in a rural area just outside of Maxville, Ontario. last weekend, a devastating blow for the group. This year marked his comeback after a hiatus in 2017.

“That’s more than half of what we ordered,” Mills said. However, in the days that followed, the community regrouped.

Mills said more than 100 Ottawa residents volunteered their time to redo between 3,000 and 4,000 wreaths for Sunday’s ceremony.

“They showed us what to do first here,” said Andrei Lavoie. “The Christmas music was on and off we went.”

“It’s a lot of work,” said Manon Lovoie. “We hope to finish in time.”

On Sunday afternoon, the wreaths were ready to be distributed to the large crowd gathered around the monument.

“I think it’s very touching,” said a woman who was at the cemetery laying wreaths. “Because coming here is always emotional.”

Wreaths Across Canada is already planning next year’s ceremony, aiming to reach its original target of 6,000 wreaths to cover the entire National Military Cemetery.

“It brought together such a great community and I’m grateful for that,” Ayers said. “The meaning of Christmas is giving and giving back and it’s a great way to do that.”