American pride, patriotism, and sense of duty run deep in members of our nation's armed forces. Those traits are shared by their families too, and during deployments, they must summon great strength and courage to mask their fears and insecurities about their service member's safety while keeping the home front functional. That's especially true when children make up the military family.
It's a tremendous burden and Wreaths Across America is passionate about supporting military families as we expand throughout the country the mission to remember our fallen, honor those who serve, and teach younger generations the value of freedom.
One woman who has joined the growing number of Wreaths Across America volunteers knows more than most about the sacrifices made by military families, and she's Taya Kyle author and executive director of the Chris Kyle Frogg Foundation.
"The whole concept of the wreath is for the living," Taya shares. "It tells families that their loved one's sacrifice was not for nothing. The people in this country get it, and they remember. It's not that while your loved one is serving people get it and thank you, but it's that they remember you lost him. They'll remember years from now that you lost someone precious to you, and it was for all of us. That's a really big deal."
The precious gift Taya and her two children lost for all of us was U.S. Navy SEAL, Chief Christopher Kyle, also known as the most lethal sniper in U.S. history. American Sniper, written in 2012 by Chris and American Wife authored by Taya in 2015 after his death gives the reader a raw and realistic insight into the pain, suffering, and readjustments they experienced as a military family.
Taya says supporting military families in your community can take on many different forms and it's important to remember they will rarely ask directly for help because by nature and training they're accustomed to serving others and don't want to be a burden.
"It's tough to suggest ideas because families and deployment scenarios are all different, but to give you an idea while Chris was deployed, my neighbor showed his support in a unique and thoughtful way. He couldn't afford to pay for separate lawn services, so he had his lawn care company do his house one week and then mine the next week. It was an incredible gesture, and he just did it because he knew if he had asked me I would have said no," Taya admits. "It's those little day-to-day life things that most family members are drowning in when their loved one is deployed."
Military families, like law enforcement personnel also experience, and process a whole host of emotions and challenges most civilians would never consider, and as a result often feel a sense of isolation. Since Chris's death, Taya has devoted her time and energy raising their two children and working with military and first responder families.
"The divorce rate when we were in was at ninety-seven percent," Taya explains. "Imagine that, among men and women who believe in honor, ability, service, and something bigger than themselves. That tells you there are obstacles facing these couples they're not prepared for in this job of fighting evil. There are reasons why your spouse may not want to tell you about his or her day; they've seen and experienced the worst-of-the-worst and don't want to bring that home. Chris and I had a strong bond, and we talked about everything, but there were things he didn't tell me because he didn't want me to worry the next time he went out."
Taya says the best way to show appreciation and respect for military families is through simple gestures like the one Wreaths Across America's founder Morrill Worcester made back in 1992 when he laid the first hand-made balsam fir remembrance wreath on the headstone of a fallen hero in Arlington National Cemetery.
"Wreaths Across America and its supporters are showing the world that you love these service members and remember they were a cherished member of someone's family. It's powerful."
You can hear more from Taya Kyle on supporting military families and other inspirational stories for and about our veterans on WAA Radio.
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."
The Civil Air Patrol Cadets meant the world to Rick. For three years he accompanied cadets to Arlington National Cemetery and assisted with laying wreaths at the cemetery. This trip changed the lives of many cadets.
"It was so moving coming down I95 because people were waving flags, honking their horns, giving us thumbs up, and saluting us."
"We have a dedicated group of compassionate people who come together to help military veterans," Rebecca explains. "If someone reaches out to us and says 'hey we need help getting a veteran's roof shingled' then we try to get it done."
“Every year we have so many professional drivers, bikers, police officers and other first responders, ask us how they can get involved, even if they can’t transport wreaths,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America.
"There are a lot of similarities between the military and the trucking industry," Rob explains. "I think that's why you see a lot of veterans successful as truck drivers."
Johnny Vet: Freedom Isn’t Free is a dynamic and inspirational musical journey of the men and women who have fought the nation’s wars and how those same men and women, as veterans, have helped to shape the nation and its destiny.
"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."
"It's heart-wrenching to see that and participate in that, Rick shares. "To see all the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles waiting there to have a wreath to place on their family member's headstone, there are just no words for it, none."