Holmdel, NJ (November 20, 2015) — Each year, Wreaths Across America embarks on a six-day journey to remember and honor military service members. Beginning in Harrington, Maine, a parade of trucks travels down the East Coast on a mission to lay remembrance wreaths at the gravesites of veterans at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, and other Veterans’ cemeteries along the way. This year, the convoy will hold a ceremony at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Holmdel, 1 Memorial Lane, to remember those New Jersey veterans lost during military service, and honor Gold Star Families who have lost loved ones in the military.
The ceremony will begin at noon, Wednesday, December 9, and will be held in the Vietnam Veterans Era Museum and Educational Center, on the grounds of the Memorial. Remembrance wreaths will be presented to Gold Star Families, and seven ceremonial wreaths will be laid for each branch of the military and POW/MIA veterans. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
“The setting of the New Jersey Memorial makes this ceremony so special,” said Mel Russen, Jr., executive board member and location leader with Wreaths Across America in Ocean and Monmouth Counties. “This location symbolizes what Wreaths Across America is all about — remembrance, honor and teaching.”
Wreaths Across America began in 1992, when Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, found himself with an excess of wreaths nearing the holiday season. Worcester, who had always felt a strong connection to Veterans who made tremendous sacrifices for their country, realized he was in a position to honor and remember their service by placing the wreaths on the gravesites of soldiers.
The annual wreath-laying tradition has grown each year, with more than 700,000 wreaths laid in 2014 at over 1,000 locations. This was enough to cover each Veteran’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery as well as at West Point.
“We had such success and support last year that we’ve set a goal of one million wreaths this year,” said Kelly Hinkle, Wreaths Across America Event Coordinator.
The six-day convoy carrying the remembrance wreaths is made up of 12 tractor trailers, 13 SUVs, state police escorts, and a multitude of volunteers.
Peter Cancro, founder and CEO of Jersey Mike’s, is a strong supporter of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation as well as Wreaths Across America. Cancro is passionate about remembering those Veterans who have fallen, and has worked with his franchise teams to raise close to $1 million for the organization. Jersey Mike’s customers have embraced the mission of remembering the fallen, honoring those who serve and their families, and teaching children the value of freedom.
“This event touches thousands and thousands of people across America,” said Hinkle. “The entire week is emotional and so touching. It’s so important to our organization to teach the next generation about places like New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.”
Before stopping at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, Wreaths Across America will lay a wreath at the southern end of Liberty State Park at the World War II Monument, looking out over New York Harbor.
“Those who have not fought for freedom do not know the price,” said Russen. “We’re here to make sure those who have served so nobly are not forgotten.”
About Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s mission — Remember, Honor, Teach — is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies each December at Arlington, as well as at hundreds of Veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. For more information, to donate or to sign up to volunteer, please visit www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org.
About New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation
The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, dedicated May 7, 1995, strives to encourage and foster patriotism and provide for recognition of the sacrifices, courage and valor of the New Jersey Veterans of the Vietnam Era. The Vietnam Era Museum & Educational Center, dedicated in September 1998, strives to encourage and foster a thorough understanding of the Vietnam era, including the political, historical, social, cultural and military aspects that affected the United States, especially New Jersey. For more information, visit www.njvvmf.org.