Denny Hart is known as a "veteran's veteran" giving the same kindness and camaraderie he was shown during his years of military service. Denny is a retired U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps Warrant Officer.
Denny shares one of the highlights of his military career was an assignment with the Military District of Washington at Fort Myer, Virginia. His primary responsibility was supporting the 3d United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).
"I continue to have fond memories of the Soldiers serving at the Tomb of the Unknown, and the military funerals."
Today, Denny volunteers his time as an advocate for veterans.
"For twenty-two-and-a-half years while I was in the military, many, many organizations helped me," Denny explains. "As a young soldier, there were times when I needed help and people reached out to me, and that made an impression on me. I figured I was the recipient of other people's volunteerism and it was time for me to do likewise."
Denny is a member of the American Legion, the Association of the United States Army, and the United States Army Warrant Officer's Association. He has authored two books about veterans: A Soldier's Exposition-A Veteran with Wounds That Do Not Bleed and A Soldier's Anthology-Heroes Amongst Us, Story-Telling by America's Veterans.
Denny's first involvement with Wreaths Across America was in 2015, the same year he became a member of the Camp Nelson Honor Guard. That year, Denny had the privilege of placing a ceremonial wreath to honor the POW/MIA of the nation at the Camp Nelson National Cemetery. It was also that year when Denny met Ella; a four-and-a-half-year-old patriot who decided Denny needed a backup for this awesome responsibility to remember and pay tribute.
"There I was in my dress greens getting ready to place the wreath," Denny recalls. "Unnoticed to me at the time, a little girl had broken away from her mother and grandmother and zoomed up right next to me. I looked down and asked her name, and she said, 'Ella.' I said, 'well Ella do you want to go back to your Mother and Grandmother?' and she said, 'no.' I said to myself, 'well alrighty then' and resolved myself I was going to have a helper."
Ella latched onto Denny's jacket and walked with him to a designated point where he asked her to wait as he placed the wreath. She did so dutifully, and she took hold of Denny's jacket once again as they returned to their place in the ceremony.
Once finished, Denny met the family and learned Ella was there to place a wreath on her grandfather's grave. He accompanied the family with Ella leading the way to the site. She stopped suddenly and said, "I don't know what I'm doing." Denny replied, "Well Ella since you helped me, let me help you." 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.
Denny says last year they had a reunion when Ella sought him out again.
This year, Denny has stepped up as a Group Leader to help promote wreath sponsorships for the Camp Nelson National Cemetery. His son has volunteered his time and expertise to create and host a website to support the effort to remember and honor 15,000 veterans laid to rest there on national wreath day, Saturday, December 15, 2018.
Just as Wreaths Across America's Chairman of the Board of Directors Wayne Hanson made it a goal to cover all of Arlington National Cemetery, Denny sounds the challenge in Kentucky.
"I see Arlington as our flagship cemetery. When I saw Wayne's video, I also decided not on my watch," explains Denny. "I'm not going to be placing a wreath and at the end have someone say, 'what about my son, or what about my daughter?' I might not be successful in getting 15-thousand wreaths this year but, I will know Denny Hart did the best he could."
Denny invites you to visit their website to learn more about the history of Camp Nelson National Cemetery and sponsor a wreath to honor one of the fallen laid to rest there.
Anyone who really knows me knows that I am often a walking Wreaths Across America billboard. They will normally see me sporting a WAA-branded sweatshirt or t-shirt, my blue and green WAA wristband and my ever-present WAA baseball cap. I’m proud of my connection with WAA and love to promote what we do and why we do it.
That being said, I want to relate a recent encounter I had while standing in line at our local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office the other day.
Air Force Veteran*, Wayne Merritt, currently manages the Veterans Transportation Program based out of Wreaths Across America Headquarters in Maine. Monday thru Friday, Wayne travels to area towns in the Downeast region to pick up veterans and bring them to their doctors’ appointments. This is just one of the many free programs Wreaths Across America offers to veterans and their families.
Military children worry about their parent’s safety very day. These children face many challenges, frequent moves and lengthy separation due to trainings and deployments. They take on more responsibilities and worry about their parent every day.
"I really don't see it stopping, and we want people to tell us where they see it. Take pictures and videos when you check it out and share them with us on social media."
Debbie says she and the transportation team are excited about new and more efficient systems that will be in place for 2018 and beyond.
To come up with an accurate wreath count for sponsorships, great effort was taken to assure no one was forgotten.
As we approached, Morrill and I began to realize that here laid the body of a very important veteran that we had apparently overlooked for the past 26 years in our annual wreath placement.
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.