Teach .................... our children the value of freedom.
Wreaths Across America™ was born in 1992 out of a desire to remember and honor American service members for their contributions in preserving our freedom. Morrill Worcester and the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, ME had the vision for this project and placed the first wreaths. It has since become an annual tradition to lay wreaths at the grave markers of our fallen veterans during December as a way to express our appreciation and to pay tribute for the sacrifices made for our country by our service men and women. Wreaths Across America™ maintains no political or religious agenda, but rather a mission to remember and honor our veterans during the month of December. At time of traditional family get-togethers, this event provides a great learning opportunity to teach our children of the many sacrifices made by our military men and women. Wreaths Across America™ is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization founded in 2007 as a continuation of the Arlington Wreath Project. WAA ceremonies are held at over 1,100 locations in the United States and many locations overseas. WAA could not carry out its mission without the help of volunteers, location coordinators, sponsors, fundraisers and the generous donations of trucking companies. We extend a special thanks to all involved.
The Wreaths Across Chattanooga Story ... In 2006, The Arlington Wrath Project (now W.A.A.) encouraged an alliance with Civil Air Patrol (the official U. S. Air Force Axillary) to organize wreath-laying ceremonies to be held at National Cemeteries and Memorial sites across the United States. In December, 2006, the first wreath laying ceremony was held at Chattanooga National Cemetery, under the leadership of Maj. Ron Broach, who was then serving as Civil Air Patrol’s Chattanooga Composite Squadron Commander at the time. Under Broach’s leadership, ceremonies were held every December (usually on the 3rd Saturday of the month). In the early years, under 100-200 wreaths were sponsored each year, but over the program’s first decade, though increased awareness and participation of dozens of other volunteer organizations, the average placement increased up to approximately 1,000 – 1,400 wreaths. Continuing after Maj. Broach’s years of leadership, (2006 – 2010) awareness has increased but still we were only able to place 800-1,400 wreaths per year. That increased substantially in 2016 when we were able to place 6,400 wreaths and in 2017, 20,000. In most years, we have received local donations to cover a few thousand wreaths per year, but in 2016 and 2017, due to unexpected one-time donations from outside the area, we were able to place wreaths on up to 45% of the headstones at the cemetery. This is still far short of being able to honor every veteran at Chattanooga National Cemetery each year, which would require about 43,000 wreaths annually. For the last few years, 2d Lt. Austen Roberts, CAP, had been serving as the Chattanooga Location Leader. He had to resign his position to take a new job in Las Vegas, Nevada. During the first several months of 2018, several members of the Chattanooga Choo Choo Senior Squadron had been considering plans to find a way to fund a wreath for every headstone in the cemetery. When Roberts resigned, the Choo Choo squadron accepted the responsibility, and under the inspiration and guidance of Maj. Marty Nix, the members of the Choo Choo Senior Squadron are making plans to expand the program, enlist the help of additional organization and will be seeking larger corporate sponsors. This leadership group realized that reaching the 43,000 wreaths goal would require resources far in excess of previous years. In cooperation with Capt. Mickey McCamish, U. S. Navy (retired), and a hand full of members of the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council, and other veteran’s associations in the area, the group will be reaching out to community leaders, the local media, and corporate groups to help raise the $430,000 necessary to sponsor 43,000 wreaths for Chattanooga National Cemetery. In addition to the need for more funding, will be the need for hundreds of more volunteers to help place the wreaths following the 20-minute ceremony to be held at Noon on Saturday, December 15th, 2018. Members of the squadron will be reaching out to past participants and other volunteers organizations, seeing more community participation required to place the wreaths on the headstones.
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