What Is Wreaths Across America All About

Mitzi Perdue And The Perdue Company Drivers Talk About The Importance of Remembering Our Veterans

Mitzi Perdue (widow of Frank Perdue), Gerald Thompson, Commander VFW Post 6483, Colonel Mike Berry, Delaware National Guard, Sally Kubicki, Ladies Auxiliary, VFW 7234

Mitzi Perdue (widow of Frank Perdue), Gerald Thompson, Commander VFW Post 6483, Colonel Mike Berry, Delaware National Guard, Sally Kubicki, Ladies Auxiliary, VFW 7234

Wreaths Across America is fortunate to have the support of many patriotic businesses and organizations. Mitzi Perdue (widow of the late Frank Perdue) participated in the Wreaths Across America events at Delaware National Veterans Cemetery, and shared the following reflections:

What Is Wreaths Across America all About?

Last week, you may have watched televised images of people laying fresh evergreen wreaths at the graves of veterans. Or perhaps you’ve seen videos of volunteer truckers transporting the wreaths from as far away as Maine.

Did you wonder, “Just why do these people bother doing this?”

For an answer, imagine that you had attended the ceremony at the Delaware Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Millsboro last Saturday. If you had sat beside Sandy Smith (not her real name) you would have learned that her husband was laid to rest at this cemetery.  

For Smith, seeing that hundreds of local people came in the 40-degree cold to watch the wreath-laying ceremony was, to use her words, “extraordinarily comforting.”
 
When she speaks, her voice is tremulous and there are tears in her eyes, but even so, she’s smiling through those tears. Part of what was comforting for her was sharing with her family and neighbors, while in a public and sacred space, the memory of her late husband. It also meant the world to her that even during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, so many people cared enough to take the time to honor military service.

It was important to her and to the millions of other men and women like her because often a major fear of those who’ve lost a service member is that the memory of his or her sacrifice will be forgotten.  Maybe at some deep level, people who’ve lost a loved one relate to the old saying, “One is never truly dead until they are forgotten.”

Wreaths Across America demonstrates to Smith and the many others who attended ceremonies in one of the 500 participating cemeteries that not only is their loved one’s sacrifice remembered, it is deeply honored.
 
Although many of the wreaths had already been placed on gravestones earlier in the day, the ceremony itself centered around seven individual wreaths. During the ceremony, members of the military placed the seven wreaths on four-foot high wire stands located maybe 100 feet in front of the audience.

The master of ceremonies, Commander of VFW Post 6483 Gerald Thompson began by speaking on the theme that those who lie here, in this cemetery, sacrificed so much to keep us free. Then, at roughly 40 second intervals, he intoned the names of the representatives from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and the POW/MIAs, who were placing the wreaths on the stands.

Each representative, carrying a wreath, marched up to the individual frame that would receive it, and then, having placed the wreath, stepped back and slowly saluted. Overhead, the flags of the United States, Delaware, and the POW/MIA waved in a gentle breeze.  

Colonel Mike Berry from the Delaware National Guard then spoke movingly about the bond between this country’s military and its citizens. Next, as we listened to Jennifer Carter’kls hauntingly beautiful rendition of “Sleep, Soldier Boy, Sleep,” many of us joined Sandy Smith in trying to fight back our tears.

The program ended with a benediction from the Rev. Carol Reese Summers, a four-gun volley from the VFW Blue Hen Post 6483 Honor Guard, taps, performed by Keith Bauer, and closing remarks by Sally Kubicki, who played the major role in coordinating the event.

Wreaths Across America isn’t just about laying wreaths on gravestones. It’s a public and meaningful way to honor our veterans and their families.  It’s a heartfelt “thank you,” a symbolic expression, as Colonel Berry puts it, of the bond between our citizens and our military.`

(Mitzi Perdue is the widow of the late Frank Perdue. Seven drivers from Perdue participated in hauling wreathes from Maine on a 3,600-mile journey to 13 veterans’ cemeteries from Delaware to Florida, including, Delaware Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery and Arlington National Cemetery.)
 

Editors Note from Wreaths Across America: We think it says a lot about Mitzi and the whole Perdue family that they not only support the WAA events, but get personally involved. Here’s a great video with words directly from the Perdue drivers: