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:

http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/remember-honor-teach/#remember

 

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