Sioux Center Wreaths Across America is proud and excited to announce the selection of Elaine Leusink of Sioux Center as our new Associate Director. Elaine first heard about National Wreaths Across America a few years ago. Shortly after this she was contacted by the Sioux Center Boy Scouts that they were going to get involved with the local organization and was invited to attend the first National Wreaths Across America Day in Sioux Center back in December 2015. Leusink and her husband Bill live in Sioux Center and have four children, one son-in-law, two daughter-in-laws and four grandchildren. She notes the two of them love spending time with family and their family loves opportunities to meet and visit with our veterans.
When asked what made her want to get involved with WAA, Elaine responded, "I was just super excited about the thought of doing something for our veterans, these men and women deserve all the honor and respect that we can give them. I had been looking for a way to honor my son. I am a Gold Star Mother and my involvement with this organization and what it stands for allows me to feel close to my son and what he fought and died for."
Wreaths Across America and the Gold Star Mothers Organization have always had a great relationship nationally. As a Gold Star Mother, Elaine added this, "Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Families understand in a way that no one else can as to what military families sacrifice. When one of their son's decides to commit their lives to the military, it is a family commitment. There are times that things in our lives are second because their duty to their country comes first. Gold Star Mothers have given one of their most precious gifts to our country, so it is only natural that when the ultimate sacrifice is made, we feel extremely committed to the nation that this sacrifice was made for. Our sons' did their duty with honor and pride and we will continue to carry on that legacy any way that we can."
Sioux Center Wreaths Across America President and Director Aaron Van Beek was excited when Elaine contacted him about getting more involved with the local organization. "Elaine has brought a bunch of great ideas to our organization already since joining and I'm excited to see how these ideas will be implemented with our annual National Wreaths Across America Day Ceremony taking place on Saturday, December 16th. She knows the importance of our mission: Remember the Fallen, Honor the Brave, and Teach the Youth. She's the best person in my opinion to fulfill our mission here in Sioux Center and nationally." Sioux Center is only one of a few local cemeteries that participate - most are large State and national cemeteries. Van Beek noted that Sioux Center's organization has caught the eye of National Wreaths Across America and is excited to get the addition of Leusink out to them as well.
Van Beek brought Wreaths Across America to Sioux Center as a local organization back in 2015 and has served as President and Director for the organization since. Leusink has been helping on National Wreaths Across America Day since the beginning as well. Last year, her family was presented with a Remembrance Tree in Section 18 of the Worcester Tree Farm in Harrington, Maine. Each year, his tree will be clipped to make the thousands of wreaths that will be placed nationwide. For the past two years, between donations and other organization's fundraising efforts, both Sioux Center's Memory Gardens and Carmel's Cemetery have been fully covered - just under 400 wreaths were placed in 2016.
"Remember this.... In truth a person dies twice, once when we each stop breathing, and a second time when somebody mentions their name for the last time." Join them on December 16, 2017 at 11 AM at First Reformed Church when over one million volunteers nationwide, will say the names of a million fallen out loud, to make sure they don't have to die a second time. To learn more about Sioux Center Wreaths Across America, please visit www.siouxcenterwaa.org. To donate, visit www.siouxcenterwaa.org/sponsor.
Ever year for as long as I can remember, I've been part of the Sioux Center Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony. Whether it was riding a decorated bike at a young age, marching with the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in uniform, or performing with the men's quartet, the past 21 years have taught me a lot about what this day really means. But do we all truly understand the significance of this national holiday?
Veterans Day, which we observe on November 11, is a day in which we recognize the service of all veterans that were members of the US Armed Forces. National Wreaths Across America Day, which we participate in around mid-December, is a day in which we remember all service members who are now deceased, both in peace and war time. While all of these deal with honoring veterans, Memorial Day was set aside as a day in which we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice - their life for our freedoms and for those around the globe.
Memorial Day is not just an extra day off from work. It's certainly more than a day at the lakes or a family BBQ. It's a day to honor our fallen service men and women who, when asked, stepped forward to defend the oppressed. It's a day to remember and honor their service and their sacrifice.
James Doornink, Albert Brunsting, Jon Dieters, Bernard M. Vermeer, Bert Kroon, Benjamin Vermeer, John A. Kempers, Arie Moerman, Peter De Boer, David E. Vermeer, Gerrit Ter Haar, Randal Karl Schutt, Charles Aadema, Arlin D. Franken, and William J. Leusink. These are the fifteen names you will find inscribed on the granite stones that circle the memorial in Sioux Center. Each was a son, each was a solider, each was an American Hero, and each paid the price of their life for the life of another.
So you may be asking yourself, "What can I do to honor our fallen American Heroes?" Come out and watch the parade on Monday morning. Honor our nation's flag by standing and removing your cap each time Old Glory passes by. Listen to a special speaker and special music at the cemetery or tune into KSOU. Say a small prayer for each hero as their name is read and their flag is lowered. Do you have an American Flag flying at your home or business? Ensure that it is either at half-staff or tie a black ribbon to the top that is the same length as the flag between the hours of 8 AM and 12 PM.
These veterans never asked for anything in return for their service to our country. Freedom is not free and freedom is not cheap. Join me and millions of others nationwide as we dedicate this day to our fallen heroes. Together, we bring comfort to families hurting from the pain of losing a loved one. Together, we stand united in honor of those who gave their all. Together, we remember.
Sayings Their Names,
Aaron Van Beek | President & Director