CAP honors veterans through Wreaths Across America

CAP honors veterans through Wreaths Across America

9 Dec 2014

Every December, in all 52 Civil Air Patrol wings and even abroad – from Hawaii’s Punchbowl to snow-covered sites in the upper Midwest to a Civil War battlefield in Georgia to the poppy fields of Normandy, France – thousands of CAP officers and cadets participate in Wreaths Across America observances to honor the nation’s fallen. They present the colors, deliver orations and place remembrance wreaths on veterans’ graves at national cemeteries and war memorials.

This year, most of those observances will occur on Dec. 13 and coincide with a Wreaths Across America ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in which organizers hope to cover approximately 227,000 grave sites in honor of the historic cemetery’s 150th anniversary.

“For the first time, Wreaths Across America is very close to its goal of honoring all at Arlington,” said Civil Air Patrol Col. Dan Leclair, former Maine Wing and current Northeast Region commander who is actively involved in Wreaths Across America.

WAA-RHT-Logo-NewLeclair and other CAP officers and cadets will join an estimated 20,000 volunteers at Arlington on Dec. 13 for National Wreaths Across America Day. At Arlington and at more than 1,000 U.S. cemeteries and memorial sites around the world, other volunteers – many of them CAP members – will also participate in the venture, placing more than 700,000 fresh balsam evergreens from Maine on the graves of military veterans as a tribute to their service and sacrifice.

Civil Air Patrol has been a proud partner in Wreaths Across America since the initiative was started by Morrill Worcester and Worcester Wreath Co. in 2006. Thousands of service-minded CAP members across America tap into the initiative each year — selling wreath sponsorships to the public, laying wreaths and conducting ceremonies to mark the day with pomp, circumstance and patriotism.

“Each and every wreath is a gift from an appreciative person or family who knows what it means to serve and sacrifice for the freedoms we all enjoy, fulfilling our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America. Besides CAP, numerous other civic and charitable organizations, as well as corporate donors, are also involved in the effort, which receives notable support from Gold Star Mothers in the U.S., the Silver Star Mothers in Canada and the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle club.

The most visible Wreaths Across America event is a weeklong convoy that begins with a wreath exchange at the Canadian border with Maine and proceeds down the Northeast corridor, stopping for numerous ceremonies along the way. This year, over 65 trucks will be part of the convoy unloading their cargo of wreaths at Arlington, where the remainder of the day is devoted to special wreath placements at cemetery sites such as the Tomb of the Unknowns and the Women In Military Service For America Memorial. From there, ceremonies move to the National Mall’s various war memorials. Meanwhile, other Wreaths Across America ceremonies are also conducted at national cemeteries and war memorials around the world. The initiative is a heartfelt way to remember, honor and teach — goals that mirror CAP’s devotion to the military.

“Like Wreaths Across America, we take pride in honoring those who have served our country,” said Lt. Col. J.D. Ellis, CAP’s 2014 national Wreaths Across America coordinator. “This is our way of expressing our appreciation and paying tribute for the sacrifices made for our country by our service men and women.”

For more information about Wreaths Across America and participating locations, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. Donations for Arlington wreaths are being accepted until Dec. 11 through Wreaths Across America’s website and through its Arlington Wreaths Facebook page – www.facebook.com/ArlingtonWreaths.

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