As the holiday season nears an end, I finally have the time to reflect on the past year and realized that one of my highlights of the year was being the Associate Director of Wreaths Across America. Yes, it was a busy year, a year that we spend most of it working toward December. But as a Gold Star Mom, I thrive on the opportunity to work and do anything I possibly can that has to with veterans. For me getting the opportunity to spend time with them and talk with them is therapy. This year on December 16, 2017 we were blessed with absolutely beautiful weather and because of that the turn out for our Wreaths Across America day was very successful. But for me there were two highlights I would like to share. First, having veterans standing at the back of church waiting for me with open arms knowing I needed a hug, they are always there when I need that extra encouragement just like they were ready to serve our country with whatever was demanded of them. The second was seeing all the people on the cemetery giving our deceased veterans the honors that they are due. On that day not a single one of them was forgotten. Such an amazing experience that I was honored to be a part of. Happy New Year, everyone and we hope to see you all next year on December 15, 2018 to Remember, Honor and Teach about the sacrifices that were made for our freedoms, they deserve everything we do.
Saying Their Names,
Elaine Leusink, Associate Director
This August, I had the opportunity to visit the tipping grounds where the Remembrance Wreaths that go all over our United States come from. With roughly 20 sections of trees in the Worcester tipping grounds dedicated to past service members from all conflicts, a sense of peace comes over you. The Veterans Remembrance Tree Program was established as another way to remember and honor our veterans. As Gold Star families visited the land where the balsam tips are harvested each year for the wreaths that are placed on veteran’s graves, they found a sense of peace and tranquility from the land. Wreaths Across America established a program to give them a living memorial to honor their lost loved ones.
“We created the Veteran Remembrance Tree Program because we wanted to find a way to recognize the fallen soldiers and their families in a more permanent way,” explains Karen Worcester, Executive Director of Wreaths Across America. “This endless forest is a truly visual representation of our unwavering commitment to our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach and to recognize our fallen soldiers and families this year and for many years to come.”
With all of this in mind, Sioux Center Wreaths Across America sponsored and tagged 15 trees in Section 16 for the 15 fallen members of our community that we specifically remember each Memorial Day. These men, while buried in different locations across the globe, will have their legacies continue to live on in Columbia Falls, Maine.
I've said this before and still believe it's true. What we do is more than simply decorating graves. It’s a silent message to all veterans, their families, and those currently serving that we will REMEMBER their service, we will HONOR their lives, and we will TEACH future generations the importance of citizenship and how our freedoms have been preserved over time.
In our day in age where it seems like the values of freedom are becoming less and less, I challenge you all to take the time on Saturday, December 17th to say the name of veteran and thank them for the opportunity to live in the Land of the Free. Thank you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
Saying Their Names,
Aaron Van Beek | Director