Linda S. Schwartz, Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner, has announced Connecticut will once again join with states across the country to honor veterans past and present during this holiday season with the laying of wreaths on veterans' graves as part of the national Wreaths Across America veterans remembrance program Saturday, Dec. 11.

Wreath-laying memorial ceremonies will be held at the state's three veterans' cemeteries in Middletown, Rocky Hill, and Darien and at 43 other cemeteries and veteran monument locations across the state. A complete listing of Connecticut ceremony locations is available at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Memorial wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 425 federal and state veterans' cemeteries and memorial locations across the country, including at Arlington National Cemetery and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, will take place at exactly noon E.S.T. Dec. 11 as part of the national Wreaths Across America program.

Connecticut will hold more Wreaths Across America ceremonies again this year than any other state in the nation.

"I think this program and the extent of support it has received across Connecticut says a great deal about our citizens," Schwartz said. "At this time of year when it is so easy to get caught up in our own lives, it says `veterans, we will never forget your service or sacrifices.' The holidays can be a very difficult time for families who have lost veterans or who may have loved ones serving in uniform overseas. I would encourage all citizens to take the few minutes on Dec. 11 to attend one of these ceremonies to say `thank you' this holiday season to those who have served this nation."

The Wreaths Across America story began 17 years ago when Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, created its tradition of placing wreaths on the headstones of the nation's fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery. Since then, the company has donated more than 100,000 wreaths that have been placed by volunteers on veterans' graves in wreath-laying ceremonies each December.

The Dec. 11 ceremonies at the state's veterans cemeteries, coordinated and sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Veterans' Affairs, Civil Air Patrol, Daughters of the American Revolution and Blue Star Mothers, are open to the public and volunteers. Volunteers will be invited to help place the donated wreaths on the graves of individual veterans at the conclusion of each ceremony.

The official state remembrance ceremonies will be held at the State Veterans' Cemetery, 317 Bow Lane, Middletown; Col. Raymond Gates Veterans' Cemetery, 394 West Street, Rocky Hill; and the Spring Grove Veterans' Cemetery, 22 Hecker Avenue, Darien.

There is still time for members of the public to sponsor wreaths for placement at any of the three state veterans' cemeteries or other Connecticut ceremony locations by calling Wreaths Across America at 1-877-385-9504 or by visiting www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. The donation per wreath is $15 Donors will be asked to designate the ceremony location of their choice for their wreath to be delivered.

Citizens are also encouraged to purchase their own wreaths locally and bring them to any ceremony they wish to attend.

There are more than 11,300 veterans buried in Connecticut's three veterans' cemeteries.