Wreaths Across America Guest Blog
By George Vukovich
An ordinary wreath is transformed into a powerful symbol when it is leaning against the headstone of a fallen member of our military. The simple greenery becomes majestic, the red bow a bright beacon of hope and remembrance during the holiday season.
More than 1 million wreaths will be placed on the graves of the fallen on Saturday, December 17, 2016, when hundreds of thousands of volunteers gather on National Wreaths Across America Day at more than 1,000 participating cemeteries across the country. Volunteers participate in wreath-laying ceremonies to remember those who have given their lives, to honor those who serve and to teach younger generations about the value of their freedoms.
American Military University, with our strong military heritage, has proudly supported Wreaths Across America since 2011 and has again donated 1,000 wreaths for Arlington National Cemetery this year.
We were founded as American Military University (AMU) 25 years ago to educate those who serve. Our founder, a retired Marine Corps officer, envisioned an innovative way to offer quality and affordable education to our U.S. Armed Forces. We've since grown to serve a diverse population of military, public service and corporate professionals.
More Than 1000 Volunteers Will Come Together Again Next Month
In 2015, more than 1,000 members of the AMU community volunteered on Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington National Cemetery and 21 other locations nationwide. This December, our community will come together once again to support this important event at more than 30 locations.
Wreaths Across America Day is an emotional event for everyone, but especially for anyone who has served in the Armed Forces. The families of the fallen receive peace of mind knowing that in this one small expression of gratitude from others, their loved ones have not been forgotten.
Join volunteers across the country in laying wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers on December 17. When you do, please take a moment to read the name on the headstone and remember it is an honor to offer gratitude and feel that connection. It is an experience you will not soon forget.
"When it comes to Wreaths Across America, we don't do what we do for the applause of men; we do it because of how important it is to the Gold Star families we've connected with over the years."
"We knew at the time it was inevitable he'd be deployed," Scott explains. "He was just a few days shy of being promoted to Sergeant when his Humvee hit an IED (improvised explosive device) in Iraq."
"I remember being in the cemetery years ago and seeing one section, it was the World War I section, near Fort Myer that was all covered in wreaths, and I was wondering who the heck put them there," Jari explains. "I know what struck me about it. It was an old section that no family members would be coming to visit."
"They have to learn and understand the history to know of all the people who have given their lives to make this country what it is today. We're honored and proud to be part of Wreaths Across America and we look forward to being part of the future."
Like any military maneuver, music performance requires individual excellence in a synchronized effort that requires discipline to achieve the desired goal.
They know they have come to serve those who served us by placing a remembrance wreath on their headstone while saying their name. Like Al, every volunteer we speak with says they come away from the day knowing they have contributed to something so much bigger than themselves.
"The statue now serves as inspiration for young people to say yes, the military is something that we should support because they come to rescue life. They don't always come to conquer the land and certainly not American soldiers. We don't go anywhere to conquer lands we go to help liberate people."
"As the saying goes we all gave some, but some gave all, and that resonates with me all the time," explains Vince. "This is our way of giving back and paying tribute to the fallen because those people are the heroes."
"We seem to be at a time in history when Americans are having a hard time agreeing on anything. We’re divided in so many ways. But at the heart of it, most of us can agree on one thing: We are Americans."
"It was really hard because I couldn't hug her. As soon as she put her hand on the wreath, I started to cry, and I could tell she was starting to tear up."
In her keynote address, Karen Worcester thanked the UMA for the honor and shared a personal story of why Wreaths Across America does what it does. In a heartfelt and often tearful delivery, Karen told the story of Edith Knowles, a Gold Star Sister who lost her brother, Bud, during World War II.
I knew I had the contacts in the trucking industry," Barry explains of his initial involvement with the organization. "I just had to get people to believe in Wreaths Across America they way I did."