Come With A Mission – Leave With A Memory
The Wreaths Across America mission has and always will be to Remember, Honor, and Teach about the service and sacrifice of our veterans, and their families. Each year we select a theme to color that mission in a new and unique way. The 2013 theme was announced this week after being suggested by from Wayne Hanson, President of the Board of Directors for Wreaths Across America:
Wreaths Across America (WAA) has selected “Come With A Mission – Leave With A Memory” as the 2013 Theme for its wreath laying projects. We hope that all the WAA Location Leaders will be able to utilize this theme in their planning for their respective wreath laying ceremonies.
The idea for this theme arose from the many personal stories experienced by WAA Board Chairman and Arlington National Cemetery Location Leader Wayne Hanson during his many years of involvement with WAA. Since becoming involved with the Arlington Wreath Project back in the early 1990’s, and subsequently with the establishment of WAA as a non-profit organization in 2007, Wayne has made it his mission to continually spread the word of WAA’s mission to Remember, Honor and Teach.
As the Location Leader for Arlington National Cemetery since 2005, Wayne has had the opportunity to communicate, either personally or via e-mail, to thousands of individuals wanting information on how they can volunteer to help place wreaths at Arlington. These individuals come from all walks of life and from locations near and far, all wanting to come to Arlington on wreath day with their own personal mission to Remember and Honor a fallen friend, relative or even an unknown veteran who has made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our Country free. Many come as families with young children in hand and can be seen explaining to their children what each of those uniformed and perfectly aligned white stone
During his 20-year involvement with wreath laying at Arlington, Wayne and his wife Ann, have experienced many examples of what they call “God Winks” when they have met or spoken to someone at Arlington in the course of placing wreaths who had a special story or memory they wanted to share. Whether it was the elder man standing in the rain remembering his recently departed wife as he faced his first Christmas alone without her; or the Marine Captain from California who had waited all day at her husband’s (also a Marine Captain) grave site knowing that someone from Worcester Wreath Company would be coming to place a wreath on his grave; or the devoted sister who is writing a book about her brother who was killed in Vietnam and whose body has not been recovered as she paid tribute to his memorial marker in Section K, or the young widow who had brought cleaning material to wipe away any dirt or bird droppings before placing a wreath on the stone of her husband who suffered from PTSD and had committed suicide.
These are but a few of the many special memories Wayne and Ann keep remembering as they continue WAA’s mission each December. With the theme of “Come With A Mission – Leave With A Memory” it is hoped that everyone who comes with the mission to help place wreaths at one of the 800 plus WAA cemetery locations will take the opportunity to leave that day with a special memory from that occasion, be it a conversation with a veteran, a touching scene of a young child placing a wreath at their father or mother’s grave or a wounded warrior clutching the stone of a fallen comrade, or just a photograph of the remembrance wreaths placed against the headstones.