By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff
Founded in 2005, Wreaths Across America has affected Needham deeply. In the last two years,
a post-pandemic tradition of laying wreaths on the graves of veterans in the community has
expanded to thousands of individuals. Though this year’s represented only the second local
iteration of the event, the growing interest suggests Wreaths Across America is of upmost
importance to the community.
Bolstered by supportive local organizations and families, the Daughters of the American
Revolution (DAR) Colonel William McIntosh Chapter hosted the ceremony. 459 wreaths at
various stations were placed across Needham Cemetery on Saturday, December 17, alongside
American flags to honor those who fought for freedom. Wreaths are sponsored by donations
from individuals and groups. These donations directly honor American heroes by contributing to
the larger, nationwide Wreaths Across America Day. On this day, over 2,800 locations educate
about and remember the sacrifices made by veterans.
DAR Chaplain Tammie Kukoleca gave opening remarks. The American Heritage Girl Scout
Troop 0711 led the Pledge of Alligiance and NHS senior Lenya Blume sang the national
anthem. Chaplain Tom Keating of the VFW Post 2498 blessed wreaths as Kukoleca dedicated a
wreath to each branch of service — Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast
Guard, Merchant Marines, and POW/MIA soldiers. Also in attendance, Legion and VFW
members, including Commander Dooher, carried out a rifle solute. State Rep. Marianne Cooley
contributed with a poetry reading of “In Flanders Fields”.
As “Amazing Grace” was played on bagpipes through the cemetery, skies lifted. The good omen
signaled that it was time to lay the wreaths.
Volunteers grabbed a couple of wreaths at a time. The balsam wreaths adorned with red velvet
bows marked the remembrance of fallen heroes. Volunteers were instructed to say the name of
the veteran aloud whilst laying the wreath as a way to memorialize each individual’s legacy of
“This really reinforces how much this means to people,” Kukoleca confided. “They are looking
for ways to honor and thank those who have fought for our freedom.” In her opening statement,
Kukoleca reminded volunteers that they are not simply decorating, but memorializing life for
individuals who have served.
DAR members were delighted at the turnout. “It was really special to see the community come
out today. We had over 100 people here today, despite the weather,” Kukoleca nodded.
DAR has already begun planning next year’s ceremony, and DAR members urge volunteers to
begin sponsoring wreaths for next year. Needham’s third annual Wreaths Across America will
take place on December 16, 2023. For further information or to sponsor a wreath, visit
By Lauren Schiavone