The balsam fir trees in Columbia Falls, Maine are lovingly grown and nurtured by Wreaths Across America's founder Morrill Worcester.
Some folks may share a common misunderstanding about the hand-made, fresh balsam fir remembrance wreaths placed on headstones of our fallen veterans across the nation and overseas each December. The trees from which the balsam "tips" are harvested are not cut down, rather pruned through a process known as "tipping."
It seems fitting that on Earth Day this year Wreaths Across America will pay tribute to our nation's EOD Technicians in a Stem to Stone Tree-Tagging event on April 22 during which the names of over three hundred fallen service members will be said aloud as their replica dog tags are placed on the tip land in Maine.
Our nations EOD Warriors are tasked with explosive ordinance disposal making them the military's "bomb squad."
Executive Director for the EOD Warrior Foundation, Nicole Motsek, explains the evolution of the organization.
"The EOD Memorial Foundation and Scholarship program were created in the late nineteen sixties by some active duty EOD Warriors. In 2007, at the peak of the war in the Middle East EOD Warriors were coming back stateside almost weekly with serious, life-altering injuries, so the Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation was set up to provide immediate and on-going support to those families. In 2013, they merged becoming the EOD Warrior Foundation increasing our capacity to serve the community at large."
According to Nicole that community of EOD Warriors which spans all branches of the military includes as many as seven thousand active duty personnel and twenty thousand veterans both men and women.
"Once they graduate the EOD Warrior School at Eglin AFB in Florida we support them and their families for life."
They also discovered Wreaths Across America when looking for ways to honor the memory of their fallen heroes while continuing to support their families.
"We started sponsoring wreaths to honor them and at what better time than during the holidays when people miss their loved ones the most."
To expand on their tribute, Nicole, her son Michael, and board member Kellie Perry are visiting with Wreaths Across America's events coordinator Lil Charron and outreach coordinator Kelly Hinkle prior to the Earth Day event for a tour of the Wreaths Across America Museum and tip land memorials.
The public is invited to attend the tree-tagging event on April 22 and show support for these heroes as Wreaths Across America dedicates a section of the land where replica dog tags will be placed. For those wishing to attend the morning events, a service will begin at 9:00 AM at the Balsam Valley Chapel off U.S. Route 1 in Jonesboro, Maine with the tree-tagging dedication ceremony to follow.
"We are grateful for this opportunity to partner with Wreaths Across America. This event is going to be a beautiful and touching ceremony to honor our 326 fallen EOD Warriors with a living memorial."
"This endless forest is a truly visual representation of our unwavering commitment to our mission to remember, honor and teach and to recognize our fallen soldiers and families this year and for many years to come," states Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America.
Any military families can have a tree tagged as a memorial to their loved one free of charge. You can find more information about the Stem to Stone Tree-Tagging program here:
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.