wreaths across america

Published On: November 22, 2021|Categories: MRFF's Inbox|7 Comments|

From: (name withheld)

Date: November 22, 2021 at 12:31:50 PM MST

To:[email protected]

Subject:wreaths across america

There is an article on Daily KOS that is very negative about wreaths across America.  
Firs, I want to say I am not christian and left that belief system behind me years ago.  From the comments at the end of the article, I feel that people are taking this way too far and that those who don’t want christianity shoved down their throats are showing the same amount of hatred and bigotry as they are saying christians are showing them.  
We have several veterans in our family.  And one year we have placed wreaths on the graves,  a couple of years we purchased wreaths to be placed.  At the Veterans cemetery we placed the wreaths at there was no christian overtones to the laying of the wreaths or we would have left and never purchase wreaths again.  We live in a conservative red state, and I have even had the ACLU assist with christianity being shoved down the throat of high school students including our own.  So, I do know when there are christian overtones to things.  
I appreciate what you all do and am grateful for that.  We saw religious beliefs forced down military members throats at times when my husband was on active duty.  But the wreath thing is in my opinion being taken way out of proportion.  A wreath is not a religious symbol and wreaths are used to decorate when a veteran dies on many occasions.  Wreaths are laid at that tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Perhaps more attention needs to be given to help others understand that discrimination, hatred, and the forcing of one’s beliefs can go both ways.  
While I cannot make comments for other VA Cemetaries, I do know the wreaths across America didn’t have religious/christian/christmas  overtones.  
These are just my thoughts on the subject.
And, thank you for all that you do,

(name withheld)

Response from MRFF’s Research Director Chris Rodda

From: Chris Rodda
Sent: Monday, November 22, 2021 8:42 PM
To: (name withheld)

Subject: Re: wreaths across america  

Hi (name withheld),

I’m Chris Rodda, MRFF’s research director, and the author of the Daily Kos article.
While I understand what you are saying about wreaths being used in other contexts, such as at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, that is different than a specifically Christmas wreath, which absolutely does have a religious meaning.  To Christians the circular shape and the evergreen symbolize eternal life through Jesus.  And, as I wrote in my article, Wreaths Across America actually says in their video that the first of the ten balsam bouquets in their wreaths represents the veteran’s faith in God.  So, yes, these wreaths are undeniably religious and specifically Christian.  They also place the wreaths just before Christmas, so your claim that they have no Christmas overtones is a bit out there.
Judging by the number of non-Christians who come to MRFF each year with complaints about these wreaths being placed on the graves of Jews, atheists, etc., there are obviously a lot of people who see them as a Christian religious statement.  If you don’t, and you choose to place wreaths on the graves of the veterans in your family, that is fine. You are making a choice to do that, unlike the many families who aren’t given a choice and see the wreaths as a desecration of their family member’s grave.
Thanks for e-mailing us, even though we might disagree on this particular issue.

From: (name withheld)
Date: Mon, Nov 22, 2021 at 4:48 PM
Subject: Re: wreaths across america
To: Chris Rodda

Thank you for responding.  I just only know of our experience.  I also know that we don’t celebrate nor believe in christianity.  We have been harassed by so called christians for a variety of things over the years.  But our experience with wreaths across America didn’t come across to us as anything other than an additional way to remember those who have died. If it, had, we would have not participated to begin with and would have left if it had come across to us when we were there.  During the ceremony there were no prayers, nor mention of any religious beliefs.  
I do know that this time of the year many feel the need to remember and perhaps speak with their departed loved ones.  And with all the media and commercial hype this time of year it does make many feel lonelier and miss their loved ones more.  I suppose this could have been part of the thought process in this events creation.   I personally believe that the real reason that the wreaths across America came about was that the companies who make the wreaths wanted an additional income source and they are already ramped up for “christmas” wreaths.  So, an additional ceremony that uses wreaths would increase their profits.  
We no longer participate nor donate money to the wreaths across America because I felt the money and time would be spent more wisely for those Veterans who are alive and need assistance.  And that is now where our money and time go.  We never saw the video you spoke of.   If we had seen that it, those comments would have kept us from participating.  Actually, I am most curious now to find out if the ceremony at the National Cemetry we went to has changed and become more of a religious ceremony.  In addition, we will decorate with evergreen trees and wreaths.  We don’t consider them christian symbols at all and consider them part of Pagen symbols and rituals for this time of year.  But then I guess it all depends on one’s point of view.   
I do agree if there are those who do not want their loved one’s graves decorated there should be some way to make sure people know that.  I was informed that those of Jewish persuasion do not decorate their graves at all.  I didn’t know that till today.  If that is the case instructions should be posted at each National Cemetry for each belief system.  I would personally like to know how to respect the beliefs of each veteran when we visit.  We have always tried to be respectful of the beliefs and customs of those who served with my husband and those we deal with or have relationships outside of the military.  And we will continue to do so till we shuffle off this mortal coil.  
From reading many of the comments posted on the article I also feel that many have allowed their hatred of christianity to color their perceptions and their responses.  I just felt that many of the responses where just the flip side of the christian/non-christian coin.  There is way too much hatred and anger on all sides and not enough listening and just accepting others regardless of, well any differences from me or another.  
Again, thank you for responding.  I hope you have a peaceful evening and an uneventful rest of your week.  
Many Blessings,

(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Supporter

From: MRFF Supporter
Subject: Re: wreaths across america
Date: November 22, 2021 at 7:56:30 PM MST
To: (name withheld)

Hello (name withheld)

I’m gonna jump in here as a Veteran, daughter, mother of Veterans, (my private citizen views) on the meaning of wreaths.
Let’s start with this to-the-point 1988 NYT article which was not at all antagonistic about wreaths but simply briefly recounting their history from paganism – which is a faith belief recognized by DoD –  to the centuries of christian symbolism for the “crown of thorns”:  https://www.nytimes.com/1988/12/25/nyregion/wreaths-carry-many-meanings-and-messages-into-christmas.htmlAlso, https://www.christianity.com/wiki/holidays/advent-wreath-meaning-of-advent-candles.htmlhttps://time.com/5482144/christmas-wreath-origins/

The articles recount that while pagans/Romans wore wreaths like crowns and gave gifts of evergreen boughs, they did not make evergreen wreaths. Christians started that after the purported execution of Jesus, as subversive propaganda against the Romans – they refashioned the “crown of thorns” the Romans supposedly placed on “Jesus” into an unending circle with undying evergreens to show their core belief that Jesus’s death gives them eternal life. The early christians first used evergreen wreaths to bury virgin “martyrs” to the faith. Circa 300 AD a Roman emperor converted to christianity and made “christmas” the law in most of Europe. A 16th century CHRISTian pastor expanded use of evergreen wreaths for christmas rituals. The current custom of hanging evergreen wreaths at christmas was popularized by the 19th century English Queen Victoria who was head of the christian Church of Englandhttps://time.com/5482144/christmas-wreath-origins/ and forced christmas on everyone. 
Our country as founded with the First Amendment escaping that history of commingled christianity and government.
Christianity is the only major world religion requiring unwelcome proselytizing, which plainly is the purpose of your CHRISTmas wreaths. They are not only unwelcome but offensive. Again, christians use evergreen wreaths at christmas to symbolize “eternal life” meaning an “afterlife” in “heaven” that “Jesus’s death” opened to them. In Judaism that is heresy. To most religions, mixing sacred symbols or rituals with stuff from other belief systems is disrespectful. There is a vast difference between year round mourning wreaths or flowers and what all Americans recognize as a christmas wreath placed only at christmas. Here’s another christian website noting that distinction: https://www.joincake.com/blog/wreath-on-door-meaning-death/
Imagine if Jews or Muslims were permitted to put their religious symbols on a christian Soldiers’ grave and insist that his family accept it because some organization wants it that way. Would you support the Jew or Muslims doing that? This is not just about christianity – can you even comprehend the historical context for what it would feel like to a Jew or Muslim to have the other do such to their loved one’s grave?
Maybe no one has ever told you but christmas wreaths are particularly offensive to Jews because they symbolize “Jesus’s death” which for two thousand years christians have blamed “the Jews” for, which is the source of anti-semitism that has caused exponentially more brutality against Jews than the Romans ever did against christians.
Fundamental to tolerance and diversity is accepting that the person affected is the only one with a say on whether and how something offends them
There is no defense to a civil rights violation that the perpetrator thinks the Victim should just accept whatever.
Note that even flowers are part of religious rites in some religions. If your organization’s purpose is to honor the fallen and comfort their loved ones and the rest of our community then you will desist when asked and investigate actually what are appropriate welcome symbols of the America that we served. The fact that you chose the most christian of all christian symbols other than the cross for the most christian of all christian holidays, and are arguing even considering anything else belies your protestations that this is not a christian effort (walkin and quackin like a duck…).

One last observation: A lot more Servicemembers and Veterans than you apparently are aware are environmentally concerned. There is a movement against cutting trees/wreaths. Growing commercial christmas trees is wasteful and polluting, from water use instead of for food, fertilizers, cutting with gas chain saws, trucking them to market, to site, then disposing by landfill or chipping and more trucking this i unnecessary carbon in the atmosphere worsening deforestation and air quality under climate change with fires and pollution highly stressing our forests. Flowers are hothouse grown much less environmental stress. 

MRFF Supporter

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  1. Ironmoped November 22, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    Name withheld,
    If the wreaths were being placed on graves at the time of the summer solstice, you might have an argument; however, the wreath is well known to be a Christian symbol of the myth of Christ’s suffering and triumph over death, as just one example. To lay wreaths at this time of year, by a so-called Christian organization, is, don’t you think, an act supporting the Christian religion? And if you’re NOT Christian…….. don’t you think it might be offensive to family members and the memory of the deceased?

  2. Jeff December 6, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    Asking that a dead veteran’s religious beliefs be treated with respect is not expressing hatred and bigotry – it is showing respect for veterans – all veterans. Any argument that Christmas wreaths don’t have Christmas or religious overtones makes no sense. And invoking the first amendment as an excuse for insulting and disrespecting the religious beliefs of veterans is shameful bigotry, plain and simple.

  3. A.L. Hern December 6, 2021 at 8:17 pm

    It’s common Jewish tradition to leave a small stone on a Jewish grave.  That’s it, just a common pebble.

    If the folks at Worcester Wreath Co. want to honor that tradition, it will be appreciated and, while they don’t deal in pebbles, finding some to place on Jewish graves will cost them exactly nothing.

    No one, including Mikey Weinstein and the MRFF, objects to their laying wreaths on Christian graves, but Jewish ones should be left to those who know how to honor Jewish dead, aren’t trying to convert them to Christianity posthumously and who aren’t using nakedly transparent demonstrations of fake piety to buy an express ticket to heaven for themselves when their time’s up.

  4. Stephen Fuller December 6, 2021 at 10:10 pm

    I’m sorry, as a veteran of 24yrs of service I feel this is the stupidest argument ever! Wreaths across America is a great foundation and all but everyone out there has their own opinions on what is “Christian” or not. When are people going to grow up and understand it’s ok to do the wreaths and if the Jewish community wants to get involved then make an agreement or a joint effort with Wreaths across America. That way every service member is respected in the proper manner and all the religious and non religious IDIOTS that want to fight about everything, can go pound sand and shut the hell up! WRFF should step up or go away. Every year some scumbag finds a reason to ruin the holidays! Lighten up and enjoy them.

  5. Ironmoped December 7, 2021 at 10:45 am

    In answer to Steven Fuller’s comments, “Allahu Akbar!”
    May the peace of the one true God, Allah, be upon you and your family for many generations to come.
    May the words of his messenger, the one true prophet (peace be upon him), be in your heart and may all our fallen veterans receive the blessings of Allah and his messenger, Mohammed.

  6. CW3R Timothy D. Emmons December 7, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    First and foremost I want to say that there is no one group that has suffered more than the Jewish people. However to project the idea that laying a wreath at the foot of a Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or any other religious soldier is disrespectful is absolute ridiculousness. While the laying of a wreath on a grave my have roots in Christianity, it is also a symbol of respect. What you are saying is that it is impossible for a Christen to honor a Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist soldier or a soldier of any other religion other than Christian. I am a retired CW3 of 22 years and know that my family would feel honored if once I pass that a wreath be placed on my grave. I believe that your stance on this is simply following suite with everyone else in this great country in that you must find something to object to. Haven’t we had enough of tearing down monuments, renaming of schools, erasing historical figures and boys in high school using the girls restroom? I am overly tired of all of the objections. I object to all the objections. We all need to stop tearing our country apart as your objection is aiding in. First of all, we are Americans, and those grave markers that have a wreath laid at the base have an American soldier resting there. To stop any group from paying respect to them and helping us not forget that they are laying there is the reason we are Americans living in the best country on the face of the earth would be disrespectful and counter productive to your organizations mission. I’m sure that your organization does many great things for veterans and their respective religions. However this campaign that you have undertaken is in extremely poor judgment. Please stop this ASAP and print a retraction for this misguided message. Respect is what all vets alive or dead deserve and it does not matter where that respect comes from. Also I am not a detractor and I am offended by that term, please change that. So, as you can see, anyone can object to anything, and now days you can not even begin a sentence before someone objects. Stop and do the good work that your organization can do for Veterans and all religions. Thank you.

  7. Terri liebig October 20, 2022 at 7:00 pm

    First of all, does anyone here really think that a Veteran Soldier in a fire fight with the enemy really cares what religion the soldnect to him is who is also in the fire fight….so ridiculous!
    I don’t care what religion you are FOOLS….if you remember me by placing a wreath, stone, flowers, or whatever “religious “item on my grave…..when I’m Dead….GOD BLESS YOU❤️

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