Individuals throughout the country who unite in common cause to remember, honor and teach power Wreaths Across America. The sense of patriotic duty and a genuine desire to keep our nation's history a piece of the present get people involved in the mission.
Our volunteers are remarkable and selfless in their work throughout the year to remember our fallen heroes, not just in December leading up to National Wreaths Across America Day. Wreaths Across America represents volunteer community service that's personal on many levels.
Dr. Julie Decker is an assistant teaching professor of Nursing at Penn State University, College of Nursing at the Altoona campus.
During her doctoral work with female veterans, Julie bonded with a "powerful and wonderful group of women." Even though she has never served in the military, the women took Julie in and "adopted" her as one of their veteran sisters. Each year these women participate in National Wreath Day at Arlington National Cemetery, and they invited Julie to go with them just a few years ago.
"The rest, as they say, is history," Julie shares. "I was immensely moved by these women to see their dedication to honoring their military comrades. Upon seeing the masses of people at Arlington, it became a very emotional trip for me."
Julie says it was overwhelming to visit "Nurses Hill" in Section 21.
"I went up to that hill and looked at all of those graves of my colleagues who have gone before me. The greatest spark of emotion for me at Arlington National Cemetery was having the profound honor of laying the first wreath in that section on the grave of Col. Ruby Bradley, one of my great nursing heroes." Bradley was one of the 77 nurses held captive by the Japanese during World War II. She went on to become one of the most highly decorated females in the U.S. military.
Julie is quick to point out many of the techniques still used today by nurses, such as triaging patients were developed as far back as the Civil War and beyond. Julie shares this valued history of the contributions of military nurses as part of her undergraduate teaching curricula. She says a frequent reaction among young nursing students is, "I had no idea what military nurses did."
Throughout our history, military nurses, both male and female, have endured the same physical and psychological stressors in combat and captivity as the very soldiers they've treated from the battlefield. Nurses have sheltered and calmed the ill and wounded, friend or foe, and have restored humanity to a world of chaos. Many a young soldier far away from home has whispered with their dying breath final wishes and message of love for family to a military nurse.
Julie underscores that fact by sharing the story of 1Lt Sharon Lane whose body was found lying in protection over her Vietnamese patient in an American POW camp during the Vietnam War.
Julie is appreciative of the teachings of her parents, which she has handed down to her children.
"Growing up, my father had friends who were in Vietnam, and one of the greatest lessons they taught us was you always support your military because they're there at a minute's call to protect you," Julie explains. "Money was tight for us but starting in October with every payday we would buy things like lifesavers and beef jerky and things like that. Closer to Thanksgiving we sent a box to my father's friends serving. It really sparked something in me, and I've never forgotten that. My husband and I have instilled the same sense of commitment to honor our military in our children. That's why we love Wreaths Across America."
Julie strongly believes in the valor of the nursing profession and in the Wreaths Across America mission that she sees as a powerful force for good.
"Military members are our protectors," Julie expresses. "They must be honored during their life as well as in their death. Those men and women who have so honorably served this country should and must have their names spoken, and their legacy discussed whether it's a Private on up to a four-star General. These people have signed that blank check to defend our country and to protect us from our enemies both foreign and domestic. For that, we as a country must come together, and we must remember those who have passed away in service to their country. As Calvin Coolidge said, 'a country who forgets her defenders will soon herself be forgotten' and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to veterans both living and deceased."
Teaching about military history comes naturally to Julie and her family. She and her family have been living historians since her children were young. Her husband portrays Major John Britton, a Civil War surgeon; her daughter has moved up from the Civil War to portraying a WWII WAC and her son is also involved in WWII living history.
These are some of her family's living history photos Julie has shared with Wreaths Across America.
Thank you, Julie, for sharing your passion for the nursing profession and the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.
Terry says veterans make up about 18 percent of the Berkshire Hathaway company's workforce. Wreaths Across America gives them the opportunity to recognize veterans across the country but most importantly says Terry to honor their employees who served.
Wreaths Across America announced that its Executive Director Karen Worcester and Founder Morrill Worcester were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Patriot Award, the highest award the Society can bestow to an individual.
I was a Navy spouse for 12 years and during that time we lost over two dozen of our closest friends. Most of whom are buried at Arlington National Cemetery and Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
Photo Contest Winners Announced
Wreaths Across America chose the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, KY, from March 22-24 to debut its newly designed Traveling Education Exhibit. This 48-foot display trailer hooked to its Chevy truck was loaded with many “hands on” technology and interactive information about the program to help visitors learn about the mission to Remember, Honor, and Teach.
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Wayne Hanson was honored to be one of the Wreaths Across America team accompanying the exhibit, where one of the more memorable things he had the pleasure of doing was to say two words to some of those present…”Welcome Home!”
As the only fully-integrated recycling provider in Central Texas, TDS joined in the effort to remember, honor and teach by donating their services.
All of the 30 Medal of Honor Recipients in attendance during the four days of events were glad to have a chance to meet Morrill and Karen.
The goal of the S.W.A.T. training is to create a core "support group" for location and fundraising volunteers with more experienced leaders joining the ranks every year.
"If you're an American, you're proud to do it. I know it's probably one of the best things I've done every year."
Mission Matters with Karen Worcester is a new program heard only on Wednesdays on Wreaths Across America Radio. Here's the schedule of the shows coming up and a link to the station.
Anyone who really knows me knows that I am often a walking Wreaths Across America billboard. They will normally see me sporting a WAA-branded sweatshirt or t-shirt, my blue and green WAA wristband and my ever-present WAA baseball cap. I’m proud of my connection with WAA and love to promote what we do and why we do it.
That being said, I want to relate a recent encounter I had while standing in line at our local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office the other day.
Air Force Veteran*, Wayne Merritt, currently manages the Veterans Transportation Program based out of Wreaths Across America Headquarters in Maine. Monday thru Friday, Wayne travels to area towns in the Downeast region to pick up veterans and bring them to their doctors’ appointments. This is just one of the many free programs Wreaths Across America offers to veterans and their families.
Military children worry about their parent’s safety very day. These children face many challenges, frequent moves and lengthy separation due to trainings and deployments. They take on more responsibilities and worry about their parent every day.
"I really don't see it stopping, and we want people to tell us where they see it. Take pictures and videos when you check it out and share them with us on social media."
Debbie says she and the transportation team are excited about new and more efficient systems that will be in place for 2018 and beyond.
To come up with an accurate wreath count for sponsorships, great effort was taken to assure no one was forgotten.
As we approached, Morrill and I began to realize that here laid the body of a very important veteran that we had apparently overlooked for the past 26 years in our annual wreath placement.
The many stops along the way at schools, veterans organizations, police and fire stations were also overflowing with love and good wishes.
I want my daughter to grow up understanding what true heroes are and the sacrifices that have been made for us to live in a free country.
Complete strangers just moments before, together, Denny and Ella read the name on her grandfather's headstone and talked some about him while laying his wreath.
"When she explained to us what Wreaths Across America is and does, it was a no-brainer for me that we would get involved."
On behalf of her father Rod, Cindi shared her grandfather's words with the audience during the memorial service. You can hear her presentation and see other highlights from the service in this video.
These two quiet and humble individuals are a team dedicated to giving back to their nation. They educate others by sharing their experiences and lessons of love and sacrifice not just from the war but the other "battlefields of life."
To better serve our volunteers in 2018 and beyond, we're reorganizing and providing more tools to support their inspiring efforts.
"I witnessed a few of the boys laying an "in honor of" wreath. They did it with reverence."
Guided by an infrangible faith when the supply of lifejackets ran out they gave up their own to save the lives of others.
"I went up to that hill and looked at all of those graves of my colleagues who have gone before me.
Volunteers planning to assist in removing wreaths are asked to attend a short briefing at the McClellan Gate at 8:30 a.m. and to follow these guidelines.
As witnessed through this video, the volunteer commitment of patriotic citizens is a year-round effort that culminates in a remarkable day of unity, friendship, and healing.
Some give the ultimate sacrifice of a loved one and are often left in sorrow to wonder if other citizens remember or appreciate what they gave up for liberty and justice for all.