Chattanooga will welcome the Wreaths Across American Mobile Education Unit this Thursday at the WalMart on Highway #153 from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
The Chattanooga Regents Council, Daughters of the American Revolution, is sponsoring the visit as a part of their on-going program, DAR Service to Veterans. The Regents Council, chaired by Jessica M. Dumitru, honorary regent of the Chief John Ross Chapter, coordinates the five NSDAR chapters in the Chattanooga Area: Chickamauga Chapter, Gayle Burrows, regent; Chief John Ross Chapter, Linda Moss Mines, regent; Judge David Campbell Chapter, Meegan Rogers Burton, regent; Moccasin Bend Chapter, Tina Staton, regent; and Nancy Ward Chapter, Linda S.
The Chattanooga Regents Council, NSDAR is joined in welcoming the WWA Mobile Education Exhibit by the Wreaths Across Chattanooga Committee, co-chaired by Captain Mickey McCamish, U. S. Navy [Ret] and Fran Simmons Barker, and the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council, chaired by Lt. Col. Jack Staples, U. S. Army [Ret].
Officials said, «The Mobile Education Exhibit shares the history of the Wreaths Across America program and the history of our military’s contribution to the creation of the nation and the preservation and continued mission of liberty, justice and equality for all people, utilizing both static and interactive displays. In addition, the Chattanooga Regents Council will have activities and information available for visitors that emphasis the historic ‘patriotic nature’ of Chattanooga and Hamilton County. Displays will include information regarding the historic Chattanooga National Cemetery , the Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Wreaths Across America’s other programs recognizing veterans and veterans’ families and U. S. Flag protocol including appropriate flag disposal.
«Many citizens are unaware that the wreaths displayed on veterans’ graves beginning on the third Saturday of each December are provided by families, friends and corporate donors and not provided by the U. S. Department of Veteran Services.»
“Each wreath is a symbol of remembrance provided by either someone who knew and loved that specific veteran or a grateful citizen of this community who honors the sacrifice and service of our veterans.” noted Regents Council Chair Jessica Dumitru. “We are committed to publicizing the WAA program with the goal that by 2026, the 250th Anniversary of the founding of this nation, every one of the almost fifty thousand veterans buried at our Chattanooga National Cemetery will have a wreath, honoring their commitment to this nation. That’s a lofty goal but this region has demonstrated time and time again that we are the most patriotic city in Tennessee and the nation.”
The WAA Mobile Education Unit explains the history of the Wreaths program, beginning with Morrill Worcester’s own story. Mr. Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Me., was a 12-year-old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to Washington D.C. His first trip to the nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Mr. Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s veterans. With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.
As plans were underway, a number of other individuals and organizations stepped up to help. James Prout, owner of local trucking company Blue Bird Ranch, Inc., generously provided transportation all the way to Virginia. Volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW Posts gathered with members of the community to decorate each wreath with traditional red, hand-tied bows. Members of the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. helped to organize the wreath-laying, which included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The annual tribute went on quietly for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet. Suddenly, the project received national attention. Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington, to emulate the Arlington project at their National and State cemeteries, or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for honoring our nation’s heroes.
Unable to donate thousands of wreaths to each state, Worcester began sending seven wreaths to every state, one for each branch of the military, and for POW/MIAs. In 2006, with the help of the Civil Air Patrol and other civic organizations, simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies were held at over 150 locations around the country. The Patriot Guard Riders volunteered as escort for the wreaths going to Arlington. This began the annual “Veterans Honor Parade” that travels the east coast in early December.
The annual trip to Arlington and the groups of volunteers eager to participate in Worcester’s simple wreath-laying event grew each year until it became clear the desire to remember and honor our country’s fallen heroes was bigger than Arlington, and bigger than this one company.
In 2007, the Worcester family, along with veterans, and other groups and individuals who had helped with their annual veterans’ wreath ceremony in Arlington, formed Wreaths Across America, a non-profit 501-(c)(3) organization, to continue and expand this effort, and support other groups around the country who wanted to do the same.
“Chattanooga has participated in the Wreaths Across America program since its beginning and, for many of our volunteers, the wreath-laying ceremony has become an integral part of their December. I’m reminded of one veteran’s comment that “to be killed in war is not the worst that can happen. To be lost is not the worse that can happen . . . to be forgotten is the worst. As our volunteers place each wreath on a grave of one of our fallen patriots, the volunteer steps back, pauses and reads the veteran’s name aloud. We choose to remember and we choose to never forget their sacrifice,” said Linda Moss Mines, Regent and Secretary of the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council.
Wreaths for the Chattanooga National Cemetery will be available for purchase at the WalMart location, including grave-specific wreaths for family members purchased by name. For more information, contact the Regents Council at email@example.com.
August 10, 2021
August 10, 2021
August 10, 2021
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