It was quite a sight at the National Military Cemetery, as people gathered to lay wreaths on the gravestones of those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces.
It came less than a week after the theft of 3,000 crowns destined for 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 eastern Ottawa, handcrafted wreaths rest in front of the tombstones of those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Jan Ayers took a moment to pay tribute to him.
âI have friends who are sadly buried here and I think this is something we should be doing to honor veterans,â said Ayers, a fifth generation serviceman.
Ayers joined other military families on Sunday in a ceremony to recognize veterans and those who served our country before laying a personalized wreath on her father’s gravestone.
âWe go 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.
âWe were notified on Monday morning that they had been stolen,â Mills said.
About 3,000 crowns were collected from a rural area just outside of Maxville, Ontario. last weekend, a devastating blow for the group. This year marked its comeback after a hiatus in 2017.
âIt’s over half of what we ordered,â Mills said. However, in the days that followed, the community came together.
Mills said more than 100 Ottawa residents volunteered their time to attempt to remake 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 let’s go.”
âIt’s a lot of work,â said Manon Lovoie. “We hope to finish on time.”
On Sunday afternoon, the wreaths were ready to be distributed to the large crowd gathered around the monument.
âI think it’s very touching,â said a woman who was at the cemetery to lay wreaths. “Because going out here is always emotional.”
Wreaths Across Canada are already planning the ceremony next year, with the goal of meeting its initial target of 6,000 wreaths to cover the entire National Military Cemetery.
âIt has brought together such a great community and I’m grateful for it,â Ayers said. âThe meaning of Christmas is to give and to repay and that’s a great way to do it. “