Service to veterans is a primary focus of Cadron Post Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.
Chapter members are currently working toward this goal as they prepare to sponsor the Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Expo. The exhibit, free and open to the public, will be set up from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19 in the parking lot of Antioch Baptist Church, 150 Amity Road in Conway.
There will be a short opening ceremony at 10 a.m., with the display of the colors by the Conway High School JROTC Color Guard, followed by the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem. Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker will be the guest speaker.
All veterans, active duty military personnel and their families as well as local school groups and area community members are invited and encouraged to visit, tour and speak with WAA representatives and volunteers.
Wreaths Across America is the nonprofit best known for placing wreaths on veterans’ headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. However, in 2021, the organization placed more than 2.4 million sponsored veterans’ wreaths at 3,100 participating locations nationwide, including those in Arkansas.
“The goal of the Wreaths Across America mobile education exhibit is to bring the community together and teach patriotism while remembering the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America. “However, over the past year, in light of the current health crisis, we believe this exhibition has taken on even more meaning by offering people the opportunity to safely participate in something that is both educational and inspiring. , while supporting and giving back to the communities he visits.
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is a corporate sponsor of the WAA, specifically supporting the WAA Educational Mobile Exhibit as it travels across the country. DAR is a volunteer women’s service organization with more than 185,000 members, who seek to honor their revolutionary ancestors and promote historic preservation, education and patriotism in their communities. The partnership between DAR and WAA helps ensure communities across the United States learn the indelible mark our veterans have on our country and the value of honoring their sacrifices.
Cadron Post chapter regent Kimberly Jones said the missions of the two organizations are similar.
“The NSDAR promotes historic preservation, patriotism and education,” Jones said. “WAA’s mission is to remember…to honor…to teach.”
Visitors to the April 19 event will also have the opportunity to sponsor wreaths. Jones said that in 2021, 23 Arkansas DAR chapters were registered group sponsors, sponsoring 1,180 wreaths in Arkansas, which were placed in cemeteries across the state, including Little National Cemetery. Rock, Fayetteville National Cemetery, Fort Smith National Cemetery, and Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery at Birdeye.
Conway is one of 15 cities in Arkansas that will host the Mobile Education Expo in April.
Among the members of Cadron Post are two veterans – Lydia Blue from Greenbrier and Karen Holmes from Conway.
Blue, 68, joined the Navy in 1971.
“Dreams come true,” Blue said. “At the age of 12, I made up my mind to join the navy after graduating from high school. I clearly remember my mother not being too keen on the idea and thinking (praying) that I would make a different career choice when the time came.
“I am extremely proud to say that I come from a family that was proud to serve their country,” she said. “It all started on a mountain in West Virginia with seven volunteer uncles during World War II. Currently, many family members serve in many different branches of the military.
Blue said that to please her mother, after graduating in June 1971, she worked as a legal assistant at a law firm in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.
“Four months later I was on a plane heading to Navy Boot Camp in Bainbridge, Maryland,” she said with a smile. “I reported to my first duty station at Training Squadron 29 (VT-29), Corpus Christi, Texas, in December 1971 as an apprentice seaman. The adventure began. loved meeting so many different people from all over the world sharing their culture.
My job in the Navy was in administration as a Yeoman, usually assigned to clerical duties in the captain’s office.
“I was transferred to Commander, Fleet Air Reconnaissance in Alameda, California from November 1972 to July 1973,” she said. “Meanwhile, our country’s involvement in the Vietnam War was ending and prisoners of war were returning home. Our command was responsible for collecting and organizing the personnel files, documents and photos of each prisoner of war.
“I returned to VT-29 and worked in Student Control until the command was disbanded in January 1977,” Blue said. “Our command trained Navy flight officers who completed aerial indoctrination training in Pensacola, Florida. We have also trained foreign students from Germany, Italy and Iran. My daughter, Demetria Meadows, was born at Naval Air Station Naval Hospital, Corpus Christi, Texas. My hospital bill was $6.
“I was transferred to Commander Naval Surface Force, US Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va., assigned to the administrative department,” she said. “My son, Garrett Blue, was born at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth. My hospital bill was $12. I chose not to re-enlist and was discharged in December 1977. My family and I returned home to Cleveland, Ohio.
“After 10 months of civilian life, I re-enlisted in the Navy in September 1978 and went through Navy Recruiting Dallas, Texas,” she said. “I remained assigned to Navy Recruiting Commands until my retirement in 1993. While serving in the Navy Recruiting Districts of Dallas, Cleveland, San Antonio and Little Rock, the Navy Recruiting Area SEVEN in Dallas, TX and the Navy Recruiting Orientation Unit in Pensacola, Fla. I have processed many applicants for enlistment or assigned as an administrative department head.
“I retired as Senior Chief Yeoman with 21½ years of active duty,” she said. “My husband of 37 years, James Blue, also served in the Navy. He retired with 33 years of active duty. Sadly, he passed away in January 2020.
“I loved my time in the Navy,” she said. “If I could go back in time, I would do it again. It was very fulfilling and gratifying to serve this great country of ours. Whether on American or foreign soil, every serving member or veteran, at one time or another, has sacrificed to put others first. It is wonderful to see young people answer the call to serve. It fills my heart with pride.
Blue joined Cadron Post Chapter, DAR, in October 2021.
“I am very grateful to my cousin who maintains our family genealogy,” she said. “It’s very gratifying to know that my family legacy of service is rooted in history since the American Revolution.”
Holmes, 57, joined the Air Force in 1986.
“I was at a crossroads between college and family, so I decided to follow my father and grandfather into the Air Force,” she said. “I served nearly eight years on active duty and two years in the Reserves.
“While stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base I was a Pharmacy Technician for 3 1/2 years, then upgraded to Information Management in the 2nd Mobile Air Support Squadron as a Squadron Operations NCOIC,” she said. “I was stationed at Falcon AFB in Colorado Springs, Colorado in the Satellite Division. While in the reserves, I was stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base with the 96th Mobile Air Support Squadron. J received an honorable discharge in 1995.
“My maternal grandfather retired as a full colonel and my father was an Air Force NCO (NCO),” she said. “They were at the same base where dad met my mom while she was guarding the base pool. My paternal grandfather and my uncle were in the navy.
Holmes said she “cherishes” her time in the Air Force.
“I was raised in a very patriotic family, but all that I had learned was not comparable to the pride I had in my country when I put on my uniform for the first time,” said- she declared. “I learned professional skills, life skills, the value of serving others and working as a team with others to achieve a common goal. I also learned that I am more capable than I thought. .
Holmes participated in the wreath laying ceremony Dec. 18, 2021 at Little Rock National Cemetery.
“I had volunteered at the wreath laying ceremony in Arlington while working for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and had not had the chance to participate again until now. “, she said. “Last year, I didn’t just lay the wreaths; I read each headstone and said a short prayer of thanks. I felt honored to serve former brothers and sisters in arms.
“Without veterans, there would be no life as we know it,” Holmes said. “America land of the Free, Because of the Brave”… We see it on shirts, bumper stickers, plaques, and more. The words are the truth and I want to honor that truth and so should we all.
Holmes joined Cadron Post Chapter, DAR, in September 2019.
“By sponsoring the Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Expo, our chapter members are adding action to our faith and beliefs,” she said. “I am so proud to be part of an organization that continues to support our veterans as well as our active duty military in so many wonderful ways on a daily basis. It is our privilege to help spread the word through our actions and being able to educate the public about an incredible opportunity provides a way for others to show their patriotism and support for our veterans as well.
Social distancing, sanitation, and COVID-19 safety procedures will be in place when visiting the exhibit on April 19 to protect the health of all visitors in accordance with CDC recommendations for large gatherings.