Holmdel, NJ (November 22, 2016) — 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 grave sites of veterans at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, and other Veterans’ cemeteries along the way. This year, the convoy will once again 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 14, 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 pub-lic.
“This year, we’re proud to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our mission — of Wreaths Across America,” said Mel Russen, Jr., executive board member and location leader with Wreaths Across America in Ocean and Monmouth Counties. “For many years the organization’s work went on very quietly. Now, the mission is more widely known and we are grateful for the thou-sands of volunteers and for everyone’s support.”
During the 2015 event, 901,000 remembrance wreaths were placed across the country, includ-ing 240,815 at Arlington National Cemetery. There were nearly 70,000 volunteers assembled at Arlington National Cemetery, and close to a million volunteers participating at 1,108 locations nationwide, including 168 trucking companies and professional drivers who helped deliver the wreaths.
“Without the thousands of local volunteers across the country who give their time and energy to support the mission, Wreaths Across America would not exist,” said Karen Worcester. “All our supporters understand the value of remembering the fallen, honoring those who currently serve, and the need to teach the next generation about the sacrifices made for our freedom.”
Since 1992, WAA founder Morrill Worcester has always asked volunteers placing remembrance wreaths to take time to read the name on the headstone aloud. During the escort of wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery last December, WAA Executive Director Karen Worcester stated, “A person dies twice: the first time, when they stop breathing, and a second time, when some-one says their name for the last time.” It is with this in mind that this year’s theme for National Wreaths Across America Day, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, is “Say Their Names.”
“This event touches thousands and thousands of people across America,” said Kelly Hinkle, Wreaths Across America Event Coordinator. “The entire week is emotional and so touching. It’s so important to our organization to teach the next generation about places like the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.”
Peter Cancro, founder and CEO of Jersey Mike’s, is a strong supporter of the New Jersey Viet-nam 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 nearly $1 million for the organization.
“The ceremony at the Veterans’ Memorial & Education Center in Holmdel is so impactful,” said Russen. “This year, we continue our tradition of recognizing our Gold Star Families. It’s a promi-nent part of the ceremony, and a necessary part of how we honor our fallen veterans.”
Before stopping at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, Wreaths Across America will lay a wreath at Liberty State Park, the site of the Liberation Memorial.
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 business-man Morrill Worcester 25 years ago. The organization’s mission, Remember, Honor, Teach, is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies each December at Ar-lington, as well as at thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. For more information, to sponsor wreaths 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, recognizes 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.