The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) introduces many young men and women today to the Air Force and the notion of uniformed service to our nation. The organization is often a stepping stone to military service or a continuation of military service after retirement.
While being a CAP member doesn't make you eligible for burial in a veterans cemetery, many CAP Cadets who have gone on to receive military honors in every branch of service are interred at Arlington National Cemetery and other veterans' cemeteries across the nation.
It seems fitting that in 2016 as the Wreaths Across America Living History project launched at Arlington National Cemetery the Civil Air Patrol celebrated its 75th Anniversary and was represented by National Historian Dr. Frank Blazich Jr. who holds the rank of Colonel with the Civil Air Patrol.
"History can be studied in many ways, and it's important to do so for a contextual understanding of the journey taken by an individual, organization, or nation," Frank explains. "I've said it before; if you don't understand where you've been, how will you know where you're going?"
Frank says through living history enactors he sees a deliberate and earnest desire to learn about what things were like.
"The attendees on Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington or other Wreaths Across America events nationwide, seeing an individual in period dress provides a degree of insight and context they're not necessarily going to achieve otherwise. It's really invaluable, and I'm privileged to be part of the effort."
Frank says while he understands December weather may not be the coziest of environments in which to wear uniforms design for tropical combat he'd like to see more enactors from the Vietnam era participate in the WAA Living History project.
"A great deal of my interest in history was born out of my father's," Frank explains. "The war never left my father both in physical injuries and mental anguish he suffered. Dr. Frank A Blazich Sr. was a disabled Vietnam combat veteran of the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry. He, like many veterans, rarely spoke about the war. As we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, I think it would be appropriate to see more reenactors representing that conflict."
Frank has a call to action for reenactment units to get involved in National Wreaths Across America Day in December to highlight the mission objective to teach.
"I would urge groups to participate and I know we have reenactors from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War, both World Wars, and even up to the present, representing all branches of the armed forces. If some of these groups or communities would participate there are thousands upon thousands of stories to tell, and I think they would be instrumental in bringing these names and stories back to life. Taking the name from a headstone and representing that individual to the public sharing, not how they died but how they lived and the ideals for which they stood."
Frank says CAP has a group of committed members who have assembled vintage uniforms, primarily of the World War II era and they've participated in the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum's World War II weekend held the first week in June in Reading, PA.
"I've reenacted with them and have seen the value of living history and interpreting history with the general public."
Frank and the Wreaths Across America family hope you'll join us as we remember, honor, and teach through living history.
The many stops along the way at schools, veterans organizations, police and fire stations were also overflowing with love and good wishes.
I want my daughter to grow up understanding what true heroes are and the sacrifices that have been made for us to live in a free country.
Complete strangers just moments before, together, Denny and Ella read the name on her grandfather's headstone and talked some about him while laying his wreath.
"When she explained to us what Wreaths Across America is and does, it was a no-brainer for me that we would get involved."
On behalf of her father Rod, Cindi shared her grandfather's words with the audience during the memorial service. You can hear her presentation and see other highlights from the service in this video.
These two quiet and humble individuals are a team dedicated to giving back to their nation. They educate others by sharing their experiences and lessons of love and sacrifice not just from the war but the other "battlefields of life."
To better serve our volunteers in 2018 and beyond, we're reorganizing and providing more tools to support their inspiring efforts.
"I witnessed a few of the boys laying an "in honor of" wreath. They did it with reverence."
Guided by an infrangible faith when the supply of lifejackets ran out they gave up their own to save the lives of others.
"I went up to that hill and looked at all of those graves of my colleagues who have gone before me.
Volunteers planning to assist in removing wreaths are asked to attend a short briefing at the McClellan Gate at 8:30 a.m. and to follow these guidelines.
As witnessed through this video, the volunteer commitment of patriotic citizens is a year-round effort that culminates in a remarkable day of unity, friendship, and healing.
Some give the ultimate sacrifice of a loved one and are often left in sorrow to wonder if other citizens remember or appreciate what they gave up for liberty and justice for all.
Wreaths Across America knows some of the finest musicians out there are members of our military performance groups. Each month, we like to feature the musical works of those talented individuals.
Each live, balsam remembrance wreath is a gift of respect and appreciation, donated by a private citizen or organization and placed on the graves by volunteers as a small gesture of gratitude for the freedoms Americans enjoy.
In just a few days, Paulette and her fellow Troop Greeters will welcome veterans, Gold Star families, and other traveling dignitaries who are part of the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery.
Grand Marshals – Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipient, Colonel Roger Donlon, U.S. Army Special Forces (Retired) and his wife, Norma, a Vietnam-era Gold Star wife – will lead the caravan as it travels down the East Coast stopping at schools, memorials, and other locations along the way.
Driver Pat Wortham is an independent contractor for Dart Transit and a member of the Wreaths Across America honor fleet. He also has a rich history of military service in his family.
The holidays are traditionally celebrated with music so tune into WAA Radio throughout the holidays to hear musical Season's Greetings from some of the finest musicians in America!
"I was only 21 at the time, and we didn't know what we had come upon. The conditions were horrible, and there were all those people in striped pajamas."
"This contribution, like the one we made last year, will help provide an opportunity for professional drivers to transport wreaths across the United States.
Rhonda says she's experienced the "power of the wreath" watching people react to her daughter's presentations.
The telegram from the Department of War said that Albert and two other men had been shot down near Wollseifen, Germany, on Dec. 12, and that they had been missing since.
Yes! There's still time to sponsor a veterans' remembrance wreath in time for National Wreaths Across America Day.
"We were replacements," explained Charles. "My best friend Luke Moore and I went over together. He was a First scout, and I was a Second scout. We were taking a town when we were shot at by a sniper..."
Wreaths Across America is forever grateful for the thousands of volunteers who place veterans' remembrance wreaths on the headstones of our fallen as they say their names aloud every December. Remember, we are guests on the hallowed grounds of participating cemeteries and we ask that you honor their rules and regulations. If you're volunteering at Arlington this year, here's what you need to know.
Wreaths Across America announces open loads available as the Honor Fleet expands to transport America's Respect.
"I remember back then when we were told several times Vincent wouldn't make it through the night and I went to the chapel and said, 'God is there anything I can do to change your mind? He's our only son."
"One thing I will never forget is getting into Arlington and it was a cold, rainy day with freezing rain, and I remember looking around at all the empty headstones thinking to myself oh my God how are we going to do this."
"As part of our Wreaths Across America project, we work with the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Explorers, Young Marines, and sometimes 4H members," Mike explains. "We try to engage our groups the way that I think the founder of Wreaths Across America intended."