Veteran services

Mission to Lay Wreaths at Every Veteran’s Grave Arrives in Albany | Military

A nearly 60-foot-long trailer parked Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 23, in a grocery store parking lot, teemed with memories of the war.

Stars and stripes decorated its exterior, along with a sea of ​​white tombstones. Under the Sun, Vietnam veterans, community members and sponsors discussed the value of freedom – and its high cost.

The event, known as the Wreaths Across America Mobile Educational Exhibit, inspired visitors to reflect on the service of military personnel. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the expo elevated the sacrifice of some of the nation’s greatest heroes through short films, interactive exhibits and a pinning ceremony honoring Vietnam veterans.

“Quite often veterans get forgotten because people are busy with their lives,” said Fred Thompson, Wreaths Across America Ambassador since 2012. We’ll never forget you.

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Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization known for holding wreath-laying ceremonies at Veteran’s National Cemeteries each December. Its mission is simple: to remember, to honor, to teach.

Although the organization was formed in 2005, the practice of laying wreaths dates back 13 years prior. It all started with Worcester Wreath, a Maine-based company that makes Christmas wreaths.

In 1992, faced with a surplus of wreaths towards the end of the holiday season, owner Morrill Worcester chose to donate them to Arlington National Cemetery, inspired by a trip to the site as a child, according to the story. This act kicked off an annual tradition of laying wreaths at the cemetery.

The tribute went relatively unnoticed for more than a decade, until a photo of the wreaths in front of snow-covered Arlington headstones went viral in 2005. The event quickly sparked national interest and Wreaths Across America was created to extend the effort to remember fallen heroes.

The organization, normally active in the Midwest and East Coast, launched its mobile museum in the Pacific Northwest for the first time this year.

“One of the main goals is to sponsor wreaths for all veterans in cemeteries,” said Jeanne Barnes, member of the Abigail Scott Duniway (Stayton) chapter of the Oregon State Daughters of the American Revolution. . “I’m one of the people who think we should have a wreath on every veteran’s grave. They protect our house.

DAR’s Santiam, Albany, Corvallis and Stayton chapters were on hand at the expo to encourage participation in this year’s volunteer ceremony, which will be held at Willamette National Cemetery in Happy Valley on Dec. 17.

“There’s a WAA that says, ‘You die twice.’ Once you take your last breath, then when no one says your name again,” Thompson said. He added that when a wreath is placed on a headstone, the volunteer says the names of fallen soldiers out loud to honor and remember them.

In special recognition of Vietnam Veterans, the exhibit featured lapel pins throughout the day for those who served on active duty anytime between November 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975.

“It’s our way of officially welcoming them home,” Barnes said, referring to the unfavorable indifference and hostility that greeted Vietnam veterans upon returning to the United States after the war.

Allen Trueseale, a Vietnam veteran, said he constantly fights to receive benefits from Vietnam Veterans of America. He expressed his gratitude to the community members present.

“It means that some people are still showing care and concern. Veterans get stuck by the wayside. I hope more people know about it,” Trueseale said.

Wreaths Across America began its shows in Oregon on August 9 in Hood River. On August 30, it will end in Gold Beach, then head to Nebraska, Arizona and Kansas to continue its ambitious mission to lay a wreath on the headstone of every veteran in America.

To learn more about Wreaths Across America, volunteer, or purchase a wreath to commemorate a loved one, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.