U.S.

December 19, 2013

Thousands lay wreaths at Arlington Cemetery gravesites

Tags:
C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service
(U.S. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez)
Volunteers placed more than 143,000 wreaths on gravesites Dec. 14, 2013, as part of the 22nd annual “Wreaths Across America” event at Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia.

ARLINGTON, Va. – Volunteers placed more than 143,000 wreaths on gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery here Dec. 14 as part of the 22nd annual “Wreaths Across America” event.

The wreaths were manufactured by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine, and came to the cemetery by truck over the week in advance of the event. Donors and the Worcester Wreath Co. paid for the wreaths.

Morrill Worcester, the company’s owner, said interest in the project has grown steadily, and that he feels now his participation has grown to something more.

“About five years ago, things really started to take off,” he said. “I really think that it became our responsibility at that point to do what we do. Today I really think it’s our obligation to be here.”

Worcester’s wife, Karen, reminded event participants of the people and lives being commemorated during the event.

“These are not gravestones; these are lives,” she said. “These represent lives that were lost and laid down so we can be free.”

Out of the backs of several tractor-trailer trucks, volunteers passed the wreaths — Maine balsam with a hand-tied red bow — to the thousands of civilians, service members, adults and children who would take them out to a single stone and place them there in advance of the holiday season.

“I said, ‘Let’s come down early and actually volunteer and put some wreaths on,’” said Bob Taylor of Redline, Pa. Taylor and 10 members of his family drove more than two hours to participate in the event.

“What really impressed me was how many served in multiple wars,” he said after reading inscriptions on some of the headstones. “You see individuals that served in three and four wars. It’s really incredible, the dedication and commitment that they showed for our country. It’s a profound sense of gratitude, to see how fortunate we are to live the life that we live, in part because of what these people have sacrificed.”

Marine Corps Maj. Daniel Smith works at the Pentagon and lives in the Washington, D.C., area. He said he knew some who are buried in the cemetery — men he had served with in two theaters of war over the last 10 years.

“Several folks we’ve served with are here, in different areas,” he said. “We have been in conflict now for 10-plus years. You’re going to lose people. It’s an amazing feeling to know that so many people not only contributed monetarily, but are here.”

Smith’s daughter, Kara Anne, said she was glad to have come to the event with her father.

“These people have died in some of the most important wars,” she said. “They did good — so we honor them.”

Vietnam and Army veteran Gerald Reed, of nearby Columbia, Md., attended the event for the first time this year with his wife, Kathy. Reed was drafted at 25, and served in Phu Bai, Vietnam, in 1971 as a radar technician. He’d been a radar technician as a civilian when he was drafted.

“I really lucked out,” Reed said. “Normally, when you are drafted they put you in the infantry. They had a need for radar repairmen, and that’s what I did. They didn’t even have to train me.”

While Reed said he doesn’t know anyone buried in the cemetery, he did say a high school classmate of his was the first from his county to be killed in the Vietnam War. And Reed’s older brother was killed in World War II in Normandy. He said he never met his brother.

“My oldest brother, Clifford, who died in World War II, died before I was born,” he said. “My mother was pregnant with me when they got word that my brother was killed.”

Reed said he has six brothers and four sisters. While one of his brothers died at an early age — just 3 years old — he and the rest of his brothers all served in the military. All but one served in the Army. His four brothers-in-law also served, he said.

“I think it’s absolutely inspirational,” said his wife, Kathy, of the event. “I love the fact that maybe there is a little pendulum that is swinging back a little more toward respect, appreciation, remembrance, recollection and giving honor — that kind of thing. This is an amazing way to do that. There is a lot of distraction in the world. This is a very humbling experience.”

She also reflected on the words of Karen Worcester about how each stone represents a life lost.

“Every one of them had a hope, a dream, a family, someone who mourns their loss,” she said. “This is a small gesture of gratitude.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

Davis-Monthan Airman helps Tucsonan

One weather forecaster’s self-aid buddy care training quickly resurfaced when she witnessed a car accident outside the gates of Davis-Monthan. Senior Airman Amanda Boone, 355th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster, ...
 
 

U.S. Air Force to kick off COOL program

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) — The Community College of the Air Force officially launched the Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program March 16. Air Force COOL is a pathway for enlisted Airmen to earn industry recognized professional certifications and licenses to enhance their active-duty work and to prepare them as they transition to...
 
 

Military leads the way in equal opportunity

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — What does it take to change a nation? What force has the power to move millions of people in their fundamental views of the world? For Christopher Daniels, a U.S. Air Force colonel, that answer is simple: leadership. In his words, “The true agent of change is true leadership.”...
 

 

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders to receive Congressional Gold Medal

(U.S. Air Force photo) On April 18, 1942, Airmen of the U.S. Army Air Forces, led by Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a surprising and daring raid on military targets at Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, and Kobe. This heroic attack...
 
 

AFAF gives all Airmen a chance to pay it forward

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — It’s Sept. 12, 2005. Senior Airman Dennis Hutchison is recovering from a hard day’s work on the flightline of Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia, when he receives a call that tragedy had struck. “I got a notification from my family that my father had passed away,” Hutchison said. “I immediately contacted...
 
 

Rocketry Club ready to take flight this weekend

TUCSON, Arizona – On March 28 and 29, hundreds of rockets will soar into the Tucson sky at Desert Heat 2015. Rocket enthusiasts from around the Southwest will gather for this annual two-day rocketry event, where there’s no cost to watch, and kids always fly free. The rockets that will be launched vary in size...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin