A little less than a month from now, on December 18, the graves of veterans in our country’s 155 national cemeteries, as well as several thousand other locations where American veterans are buried, will be indiscriminately decorated with Christmas wreaths. The gravesites of Christians and non-Christians alike will be adorned with this hijacked-from-paganism symbol of Christianity — circular and made of evergreen to symbolize everlasting life through Jesus Christ — whether the families of the deceased veterans like it or not.
This “service,” which to many families is a desecration of their deceased loved ones’ gravesites, comes courtesy of the organization Wreaths Across America, which, on its self-proclaimed “National Wreaths Across America Day,” enlists the help of volunteers across the country to lay a wreath on every veteran’s grave, forcing the non-Christian dead who didn’t celebrate Christmas in life to celebrate it in death.
Each wreath, according to a Wreaths Across America video, is made from ten balsam bouquets, the first of which, says the video, “stands for the veteran’s faith in God,” adding more religious symbolism to these tidings of joy.
While having issued a statement in 2014 claiming that they don’t place their wreaths on graves marked with the Star of David, the image below from the 2017 wreath-blanketing at Arlington National Cemetery, which is a close-up from the video shown in a 2019 FOX5 news report on the group, clearly shows a Wreaths Across America volunteer placing one on a grave marked with the Star of David.
Needless to say, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) gets numerous complaints every year about this organization’s work, from those who have had an unwanted wreath placed on their family member’s grave and from those who, like the writer of the following email, want to stop their loved one’s grave from being defiled.
From: MRFF client’s name withheld
Subject: Thank You
Date: November 19, 2021 at 6:55:27 PM MST
To: Michael L Weinstein
Thank you for taking my message so quickly. When I saw the ad for Wreaths Across America on social media, I was immediately concerned. I knew MRFF was who I needed to contact. I expressed the added stress of worrying if I would need to travel to make sure my grandfather’s grave at the Santa Fe National Cemetery was left alone of any Christian wreaths. After speaking with you, as well as the director of the cemetery, I feel assured that I can honor my grandfather the way he would have wanted this time of year. Again, thank you and everyone at MRFF for taking the time to help not only those who serve, but their families as well.
(MRFF client’s name withheld)
This issue of the desecration of the resting places of non-Christians by Christians is personal to MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein, whose own Jewish veteran father’s grave was desecrated by having a Christian cross placed on it one Easter. It’s no surprise, then, that Mikey has plenty to say below about Wreaths Across America’s complete disregard for the wishes of the many, many families who do not want their loved one’s gravesite violated by wreath-bombing strangers.
“It’s supposed to be ‘Wreaths Across America’ not 'Grief Across America’!
MRFF fights this same damn thing every holiday season. And, as usual, we are receiving a flood of client requests for MRFF’s help yet again in this matter.
In the past we’ve tried to handle each client outreach on a case-by-case basis.
We could barely even do THAT during the 4 dark years of Trump’s Christian Nationalist administration for the obvious reasons. But it’s supposed to be a new day now with Joe Biden as President and Denis McDonough as his enlightened, new VA Secretary replacing Trump’s racist, Christian supremacist and Confederate fetishist VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
Look, we have no problem with 'Wreaths Across America' placing Christmas wreaths on the graves of those deceased American veterans (the overwhelming majority of whom were probably Christians) if their surviving family members so requested it.
But to unilaterally place such a Christmas wreath on the grave of a deceased veteran whose family did NOT request it, or in any other way grant prior approval for such placement, is unquestionably a repulsive act of DESECRATION by the prejudiced, ethically disinterested, and fecklessly ignorant.
Why, you might ask? After all, I’ve had people screaming at me that 'It’s just a sweet, little, Christmas wreath, what’s the big deal, Scrooge Weinstein?’
Fair enough. Let me make this really simple for those of you who don’t seem to get it. Although I and my MRFF colleagues would give our collective last breaths and our last drops of blood to defend our Christian military MRFF clients’ right to constitutionally practice their Christian faith, it is undeniable that the most central tenet of that faith is accepting Christ as one’s Lord and Savior. Indeed, unless one bends his/her knee and confesses Christ to be his/her ONLY Lord and Savior (see Romans 14:11), then the ‘refuser’ will not see life and, instead, as a divine punishment, will face the wrath of Jesus in this life (see John 3:36) and, after death, will be thrown to burn forever in the Lake of Fire (see Revelation 20:15).
Not all Christians might believe that, but to the families of those deceased veterans who are non-Christians, the eternal threat message of Christ-imposed torture and brutality in this life and after death is quite clear as a bell.
Indeed, to the families of honorable American veterans who have NOT requested ‘Wreaths Across America’ to place a Christmas wreath on their deceased loved one’s grave in a VA cemetery, that Christmas wreath exists to proclaim that Christ is King of the Universe, OR ELSE! And it’s that horrific ‘OR ELSE’ which disgusts families who do not want Christmas wreaths hideously marring the tranquility of the honored gravesites of their late loved ones.
My dad rests in a VA national cemetery. I’ve already had to deal with some filthy, jackass coward(s) placing an Easter cross on his grave. Let me assure you that my family and our MRFF client families will move swiftly and aggressively to prosecute, criminally, and sue, civilly, anyone who tries to place a Christmas wreath at these hallowed gravesites without first obtaining the families' permission!
American families should NEVER BE BURDENED to have to go to all the trouble to preemptively ‘opt out’ to the VA regarding this mass action to place sectarian, Christian artifacts such these Christmas wreaths on the graves of their honored loved ones!”
This burden rests clearly with the VA, as the trusted fiduciary custodian of our National Cemeteries, to ensure that ‘Wreaths Across America” has duly received prior unequivocal approvals to place these Christmas wreaths from the families of those valiant veterans who have served and passed from this life.
NO SUCH PRIOR APPROVAL, NO CHRISTMAS WREATH ON A VETERAN’S GRAVESITE!