REMEMBER. HONOR. TEACH.
This is something I wholeheartedly believe in. I live my life by it and make it a point to teach my children.
One way we do this is our annual pilgrimage to Arlington National Cemetery with Wreaths Across America.
In 1992, Worcester Wreath Company found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s veterans. With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year. The wreath-laying is held annually, on the second or third Saturday of December. WAA’s annual pilgrimage from Harrington, Maine to Arlington National Cemetery has become known as the world’s largest veterans’ parade, stopping at schools, monuments, veterans’ homes and communities all along the way to remind people how important it is to remember, honor and teach.
I was introduced to WAA by Bre Kingsbury (whom I met from my sista from anotha mista, Mrs. Tigg Bitties Ives, Inc.). Bre sent me a sign up link to donate to her fundraising efforts. It’s only $15 a wreath! At first, I thought: why can’t they buy fake wreaths and save $$ each year??? But then I learned about the back story. I learned about their tree tagging ceremony in July with Gold Star Families. I learned how this seemingly inconsequential act => carries deep significance.
I watched videos and was immediately AFFECTED. I saw firsthand how deeply it heals the broken hearts of the families. It is the PERFECT way to honor the fallen for the holidays. The perfect way to do something so simple, so effortless, and so powerful.
All you have to do is show up. Grab a wreath from a box, lay it on a grave. Say their name. Read where they served, how old they were. When you do that, you are honoring them and their family. You honor what they gave up in the name of America, in the name of freedom. I said a prayer. I sent words of hope and peace to his/her family. My heart feels full.
My advice: At Arlington, you have to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Wreath Ceremony. On Saturday, it was raining, muddy and cold, but the purpose is greater than comfort. And worth every minute. I walked by this little boy laying a wreath and he stood in front of that headstone, and in perfectly crisp Boy Scout form, he saluted. This darling, young boy saluted a grave. I absolutely cried. What an amazing little kid! He was probably 8 or 9 years old. He had to be freezing, the rain hitting him straight in the face! Yet he stood there alone, arm raised in reverence and saluted our heroes.
Moments like this move me. Inspire me. And keep me returning every year.