Offering flowers at a memorial site is a ritual that occurs around the world, symbolizing the beauty and brevity of life. Floral tributes are made each day at Arlington National Cemetery — at funeral services, public ceremonies and individual visits to a loved one's gravesite.
Formal ceremonies at Arlington often involve the laying of a wreath. These ceremonies typically take place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, attended by ceremonial units from the uniformed services. You may have the opportunity to observe such a ceremony during your visit. You might even be taking part in one.
The most solemn ceremonies occur when the president of the United States, or the president's designee, lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to mark the national observance of Memorial Day, Veterans Day or some other special occasion. Ceremonial wreath layings also occur during state visits of foreign dignitaries, who pay formal respects to the sacrifices of America's veterans by placing a wreath before the Tomb.
Wreath layings by other public figures and organizations take place at the Tomb or at the scores of other memorials throughout the cemetery, although most are not marked with the same ceremonial pomp of the state events. These include annual observances by veterans' groups and special events such as the dedication of a marker or the commemoration of an anniversary.
If you are participating in or requesting a wreath ceremony this year, you have the honor of being part of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration.