Wreaths Across America's Kid's Corner Presents Emma Landrum in Decatur, Alabama
The three objectives of the Wreaths Across America mission are to remember our fallen heroes, honor those who currently serve, and teach younger generations the value of freedom. It’s that last objective that most would agree is vital. President Ronald Reagan may have said it best when he said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
More and more families participate with Wreaths Across America in wreath-laying ceremonies across the country, and about a third of the organizations’ volunteers are young people. In our monthly feature called Kid’s Corner, Wreaths Across America recognizes youth volunteers who step up to do their part, making sure no hometown hero is forgotten. You can read about their efforts in our monthly newsletter, hear more of their interview on Wreaths Radio on Friday mornings, and check out some of their photos on our Facebook pages.
Emma Landrum was brought to our attention by Wreaths Across America Location Coordinator and member of the VFW Auxiliary Post 4190 in Decatur, Alabama, Tammy Kunkel. Emma is a Junior Girl Scout in the 6th grade who has an incredible passion for military veterans. “It’s always been really important to me because my entire family is filled with veterans,” she shared. When Emma attended a Wreaths Across America ceremony a few years ago, she heard that ten graves were unmarked, and that’s when she went to work. “It just feels wrong to me that veterans are not honored the way they should be.”
Emma’s volunteer efforts would become her bronze award project for scouting, and she called it the Forgotten Warriors Project. The VA provides a bronze grave marker for free if military service can be proven. Emma was aided in her research by the VFW Commander, Calvin Underwood, and others. Identifying the fallen heroes was a challenge, but there was more work to be done. While the military markers themselves were free, the installation on the headstones at Roselawn Cemetery is not. There’s a cost of four-hundred and thirty-five dollars each to affix the bronze plate to the granite. With the support of her family, Emma started fundraising. “We started making necklaces and bracelets,” Emma explained. “We stamped my three favorite words on them; faith, hope, and love, and we sold them.” Between jewelry and Girl Scout cookie sales, Emma raised enough money to install several markers.
The first marker for U.S. Army veteran Donald S. McFarland, was placed during the 2019 Wreaths Across America ceremony at the cemetery. On Memorial Day markers were placed for U.S. Army veteran Olin Baker, U.S. Air Force veteran Charles Spence, and U.S. Navy veteran Paul Stroud.
Emma has a 7-year plan that will require her to fundraise right through high school to be sure seven more markers get installed on the headstones before she graduates. A fund has been set up through the VFW Post 4190 in Decatur, Alabama if you’re interested in supporting her fundraising efforts.
Thanks, Emma, for helping us remember, honor, and teach. You can hear more from our Kid’s Corner interviews in our Kid’s Corner special reports on Fun Fridays at 9:15 AM EST during the Wreaths Across America Radio Morning Show.