Gold Star Mother Candy Martin’s Wreaths Across America Experience
Wreaths Across America (WAA) is enacting a 21-Day Salute, recognizing groups and individuals who exemplify the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach. The organization has a goal to place a wreath at every headstone at Arlington National Cemetery, but they have a dream that people across the country will share the mission of WAA for generations.
Gold Star Mother Candy Martin first heard of WAA in the fall of 2008. Touched by the idea and story, she began participating at a small cemetery in Sandston, VA. In 2011 at the request of friend and fellow Gold Star Mother Norma Luther, Candy was invited to join the WAA Escort to Arlington. Beginning in Maine, Candy and other Gold Star Mothers toured the WAA museum, enjoyed a tour given by Morrill Worcester of the tree farm, and were able to watch the wreath making process. During Candy’s visit, she watched as several church, school, and civic groups helped tie bows on wreaths, just before the escort left Harrington, Maine. The kids so full of excitement to know they were a small part of a huge project that would honor those who have served our nation.
Candy recalled that week as a significant and emotional time. At the tip farm, Morrill helped each of the Gold Star Mothers tag a tree in honor of their fallen soldier. Candy remembered selecting a beautiful balsam fir, knowing that one-day it will be tipped (end branches cut off) and those boughs would be used to make wreaths to place at another veteran’s headstone, creating a perpetual circle of honor.
After reviewing the schedule for the trip, Candy was also surprised to learn that West Point Cemetery was a stop along the escort. Her Son, 1st Lt. Thomas Martin, graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2005 and was killed in Iraq in 2007. He is laid to rest at West Point Cemetery. Candy was able to place his wreath and share her son with all those traveling on the convoy.
This year, Candy and her husband will travel to Washington DC, joining the WAA team at Arlington once again, because she says, “if we don’t teach the next generation about remembrance and honor, we won’t have anything left to remember or honor. The next generation is who will carry the torch to honor and remember those who are willing to serve our great nation.”
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