13:09 PM

CAP Helps Honor Nation's Fallen Through Wreaths Across America

Every December, Civil Air Patrol takes part in a holiday tradition observed by all 52 CAP wings and even abroad. From Hawaii's Punchbowl to snow-covered sites in the upper Midwest to a Civil War battlefield in Georgia to the poppy fields of Normandy, France, thousands of CAP senior members and cadets participate in Wreaths Across America observances to honor the nation’s fallen.

They present the colors, deliver orations and place veterans’ wreaths on headstones at national cemeteries and war memorials.

Senior members and cadets will join an estimated 90,000+ volunteers at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday for National Wreaths Across America Day. At Arlington and at 1,600 U.S. cemeteries and memorial sites around the world, other volunteers — many of them CAP members — will also participate in the venture, placing more than a million and a half fresh balsam evergreens from Maine on the graves of military veterans as a tribute to their service and sacrifice.

“Civil Air Patrol has been a proud partner in Wreaths Across America since the nonprofit was founded in 2007,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP national commander. “Thousands of service-minded CAP members across America tap into the initiative each year — selling wreath sponsorships to the public, laying wreaths and conducting ceremonies to mark the day with pomp, circumstance and patriotism.”

“Each and every wreath is a gift from an appreciative person or family who knows what it means to serve and sacrifice for the freedoms we all enjoy, fulfilling our mission to 'Remember, Honor and Teach,'” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America. Besides CAP, numerous other civic and charitable organizations, as well as corporate donors, are also involved in the effort, which receives notable support from Gold Star Mothers in the U.S., the Silver Star Mothers in Canada and the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle club.

The most visible Wreaths Across America event is a weeklong convoy that began with a wreath exchange at the Canadian border with Maine and proceeded down the Northeast Corridor, stopping for numerous ceremonies along the way. This year, over 65 trucks were part of the convoy.

On Saturday, volunteers will help unload the trucks’ cargo of wreaths at Arlington, where the remainder of the day is devoted to special wreath placements at cemetery sites such as the Tomb of the Unknowns and the USS Maine Mast Memorial.

Meanwhile, other Wreaths Across America ceremonies are also conducted at national cemeteries and war memorials around the world. The initiative is a heartfelt way to remember, honor and teach — goals that mirror CAP’s devotion to the military.

More information is available at the Wreaths Across America website or the Arlington Wreaths Facebook page.