Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America, told Breitbart News of her charity’s mission to honor fallen veterans across America by laying wreaths across military servicepersons’ graves. She joined Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow on a recent edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily.
Worcester explained how the transient nature of residents in Arlington, Virginia, contributes to shortfalls of contributions to her organization towards Arlington National Cemetery.
You guys are wonderful. You always help us with this last push, and we always end up with this deficit for Arlington. … Arlington is our nation’s cemetery, but it’s in a community that’s so transient, like it’s politicians that come and go to live there, or military personnel that spend two years there. So it’s a cemetery that isn’t embraced by a local community like your other 1,640 locations are. So people will concentrate on making sure their veterans locally are honored with this program, and they forget about those from each state [buried at Arlington National Cemetery]. There are veterans from every state buried at Arlington, and to be buried at Arlington they had to have achieved great military status. That is why there is a shortage, and because there are about 30 burials a day at Arlington.
Worcester added, “We’re still lacking about 23,000 [wreaths] to cover each one of the headstones at Arlington, and it’s just so much more than decorating stones. It’s getting in touch with history and it’s just a great thing to do with your family, not only to sponsor wreaths but to go out and help us place them. That’s why we find ourselves with a shortfall every year, and this year we’ve had some great help.”
Worcester invited Americans to donate to and volunteer by helping lay wreaths on Wreaths Day, coordinating a ceremony or location, leading a fundraising group, helping raise funds for wreaths, or offering sponsorships with her charity. Wreaths Across America currently has over 2,000,000 volunteers, including 600 volunteered trucks across the country delivering wreaths to military servicepersons’ graves.
Last year, Wreaths Across America placed 1.5 million wreaths at veterans’ burial sites.
“Wreaths across America just went to Normandy,” noted Worcester:
We’ve been trying to do this with my husband, the founder, for many years. They placed almost 9,400 wreaths at Normandy, and that makes me think about Arlington, because even though hometown heroes are buried at Normandy like they are at Arlington, we don’t make that connection, and I was so moved by the whole thing. I stayed stateside, but my husband sent a picture.
We’re from Washington County, Maine, a very, very small community, and buried in that cemetery in Normandy was a young man from this county. His name was Private First Class Lawrence Colson, and he enlisted on Veterans Day in 1942 and he died on Normandy Beach, but what really moved me is if you look him up, it says, “single and no dependents.” So here is this young man who gave a whole life. He didn’t get married. He didn’t have kids, and he enlisted for our freedom, and those are the kinds of heroes we honor all across this country.
Worcester remarked, “This is what we do at Wreaths Across America. It’s a reminder of who we are. So when we go out every day, we need to remember who we represent, and that’s those men and women in these cemeteries. I don’t want to see anybody not remembered.”
“Last year, 90,000 people showed up on Wreaths Across America day, the largest crowd to ever go to Arlington National Cemetery” recalled Worcester:
They were left and right, and atheist and Christian, but just for a day we went together, and went to be Americans. That’s what we have to remember. It gets dirty fighting out there, but we have to remember who we are and who we represent because buried in these cemeteries are all walks and all faiths, and that’s who we are. Our kids need to know this, because right now our kids are being taught by hashtags and headlines, and that is tragic. Teach them them everything and let them make their own choices.
Worcester continued, “The best history lesson there is buried in these cemeteries. Behind every stone is a story, and it’s usually a story of service and sacrifice that is lost on us today, and that’s why this program is so important to me, that you say the name and you make it personal, and it will change you.”
“We need 460 sponsorships from each state, and we ought to be able to pull together to do that to make sure that everybody is remembered,” implored Worcester. “The most popular package we have is the family package; four wreaths at $15 a piece. We can do a card. We can do whatever you want. If you can’t sponsor, you can go out and participate. We’re always looking for volunteers to go out and place wreaths.”
Worcester concluded, “The mission is to remember, honor, teach, and it’s going to take all of us to make sure the next generation knows and remembers who we are and where we came from. So we really need the help with this push.”
Wreaths Across America’s toll-free number is 1-877-385-9504.
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