On Saturday, July 29, as part of its 10th Annual Stem to Stone event, national nonprofit Wreaths Across America (WAA) recognized Patricia A. Jones of Cannelton, Ind., as the seventh recipient of the organization’s annual REMEMBER Award. This award is given semi-annually to an individual or group who Remembers the fallen and their sacrifice in a way that goes above and beyond.
WAA’s Director of Locations and Groups, Julie Bright, who chaired the selection committee, spoke about Ms. Jones’ community efforts at the nonprofit’s annual weekend event held in the Downeast region of Maine, where it is headquartered.
“We try to take time each year to honor those special individuals and organizations who commit personal time, action and intention in remembering our nation’s fallen heroes,” said Bright. “National Wreaths Across America Day is an event, but Wreaths Across America has a year-round mission. It is the heartfelt efforts of individuals like Patricia who make our mission to Remember, Honor, Teach their personal mission and help share the stories of the people who have served and sacrificed for our freedoms.”
Ms. Jones is the executive director of the local Cannelton Food Pantry and is a granddaughter, daughter, wife, and mother of United States Veterans. Fifteen years ago, her tireless commitment to our nation’s veterans commenced a personal gravesites photography and documentation effort for the Find-Grave website. Ten years ago, she attended gravestone restoration classes and has since cleaned and repaired countless gravestones. She, along with the help of her grandson, has located, marked, and documented ‘lost’ cemeteries. She has placed memorials and plaques on veteran graves and places flags and flowers in celebration of their service on related holidays. Ms. Jones also spearheads the Wreaths Across America program in her community.
“It’s always wonderful to spend time working on behalf of our nation’s veterans,” said Ms. Jones. “Thank you to everyone that I have worked with and volunteered with over the years. I am humbled to receive this award and will continue to be committed to helping remember all those who served. Thank you to Wreaths Across America and our nation’s veterans!”
Other 2023 awards recipients honored by WAA include:
HONOR Award: Given annually to an individual or group who HONORS those who serve and their families in a way that supports the Wreaths Across America mission. This year’s recipient is Nancy Fritcher of Baldwinsville, N.Y.
Nancy has been a strong supporter of WAA, a teacher of the mission to Remember, Honor, Teach, and an active participant in the program at Woodlawn Cemetery for many years. Previously, as a Girl Scout troop leader, Nancy led two of her cadets to earn the Girl Scout Silver Award. She did this by teaching her troop about Medal of Honor Recipients buried at Woodlawn Cemetery while cleaning and preparing QR-coded information about these veterans. In teaching about their service, she also taught her scouts the importance of remembering their families, that often are left at home worrying about their loved ones.
TEACH Award: Given annually to an individual or group who has made a large contribution to TEACHING the next generation to Remember and Honor those who serve in our nation’s military. This year’s recipient is Cathy Pagano of Woodland Park, N.J.
Cathy Pagano retired after 40 years of serving as a history teacher. Since her retirement, she has become very involved with her Woodland Park community and its youth. Her community work revolves around teaching students the importance of respecting and honoring our nation’s veterans.
LEARN Award: Given semi-annually to a young individual who has learned and understands the Wreaths Across America mission and incorporates it into their young life. This year’s recipient is 13-year-old Zackariah VanGilder of Morgantown, W. Va.
Zackariah has faithfully devoted the last eight years to the WAA mission. He has served in every capacity, from trash collection and clean-up to learning to play taps on the saxophone. His enthusiasm for the program, coupled with his leadership by example, has helped to create a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
This year, National Wreaths Across America Day will be held on Saturday, December 16, 2023. It is a free event, open to all people. Click here to find a local participating cemetery near you to support; go to and type in your town and/or state. For more information or to find a participating cemetery near you, please visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.