The month of May is Military Appreciation month, and the Wreaths Across America family of volunteers know better than any group of citizens how important it is to show gratitude and appreciation every day of the year.
Recently, Wreaths Across America presented its annual Remember, Honor, Teach and Founders awards in Arlington, Virginia.
Volunteer and military spouse, Bre Kingsbury was selected as the recipient of the Remember Award. This award is given to an individual for exceptional effort in remembering the fallen and their sacrifice. Kingsbury received the Remember Award for her dedication to building awareness and tireless efforts to ensure that a remembrance wreath was placed at every headstone and the bottom of each column in the Columbarium and on the niche wall — 240,815 total — at Arlington National Cemetery in December 2015.
It was personal for Bre as it is for many of our volunteers. Bre's husband John is a Navy Seal whose service spanned fourteen years. Their introduction to Wreaths Across America came in 2011 only months after losing twenty-five friends in one mission in Afghanistan when their helicopter was shot down.
“We were just in utter shock that first year trying to figure out how to move forward to help the families and children,” Bre explained. "We wanted something we could do on a yearly basis, and then some of the Gold Star wives told us about the wreath laying at Arlington, and I told my husband that’s something we can get involved with.”
Get involved they did, raising $20,000.00 in the first year to support the purchase of veterans remembrance wreaths and last year Bre, John, and the members of Team Bear ended their efforts close to $37,000.00
“I just kept upping the goal every year, and this year I’m turning 40, so I’ve set the goal at 40,000.00 dollars. My birthday falls just two days before National Wreaths Across America Day this year, and I’m asking everyone who might get me a gift to sponsor wreaths instead.”
Last December when it looked as though all of ANC would not be covered with veterans remembrance wreaths Bre pulled out all the stops and got powerful support from other SEAL wives who include her friend Jenna Lee of Fox News, and Melanie and Marcus Luttrell.
"Jenna's husband and my husband went through BUD's together," explains Bre. "When she found out what we were doing through another friend, she called me and said why didn't you tell me about this?"
Bre says after the Fox News interview she started to get donations for Team Bear from all over the country, and when money poured in from Texas and Oklahoma her curiosity got the best of her.
"So I called Melanie and asked if there was any chance she knew any of these donors and she told me she had shared the link with all of the contacts who receive Marcus's newsletter!"
When Bre learned she'd be receiving the Remember Award from Wreaths Across America, she said she started crying and immediately called her mother who also started crying.
"There are so many people who do so many good things for Wreaths Across America; I'm just humbled and so grateful."