Wreaths Across America Right Here At Home
Each December, the national non-profit Wreaths Across America coordinates wreath laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and more than 2,500 other locations across all 50 states and abroad. For the past three years, Leland’s John E. Jacobs American Legion Post #68 has been participating at Wilmington’s National Cemetery on Market Street. The effort began with 40 wreaths and grew last year to more than 400. Hopes are that this year will eclipse that.
“Future plans are to have ALL of these heroes given a wreath. Right now only about 50 percent are honored,” said Post Commander John Hacker. “The number grows, but we must be aware and see that all are honored.”
The mission of Wreaths Across America is to “Remember fallen US Veterans, Honor those who serve, and Teach children the value of Freedom.” Wreaths are sponsored by donations that pay for the wreath itself and help support partner organizations.
“We found that WAA was a great fundraiser for us to use in helping Veterans and their families in need and community schools, primarily elementary schools,” Hacker said. “We had good success last year through donations from neighbors, members and a few businesses.”
Hacker said last year’s donations were put to good use. “The donations help Veterans and their families, such as rent assistance, food, clothing— big part — and Holiday Meals where needed,” he said “Donations also reached schools in the area, such as North Brunswick High School and Lincoln Elementary. We also helped Brunswick Family Assistance with their Christmas in July for elementary school children with back packs and clothing.”
The wreaths will be laid at Wilmington National Cemetery on Dec. 18 beginning at 2 pm. “The Boy Scouts of Troop 747 are involved with the laying of the wreaths,” Hacker said. “We explain how to do it and why we do it this way, to honor those who have fallen.”
“It is amazing how many people are not aware of our national cemetery here in Wilmington, so much history there,” he said. “History surrounds Wilmington National Cemetery. The grave sites are over 150 years old. WAA at Christmas allows us to take time to be really thankful for those who gave us their all for freedom. It’s a time to reflect. its very quiet there, and even though the crowds are there, it is peaceful. There is no yelling at one another, people smile and many tears are shed.”
Wreaths can be sponsored in increments of $15 per wreath with checks, payable to Wreaths Across America, given to your local American Legion member or mailed to American Legion Post 68, PO Box 521, Leland NC 2845. To donate online, simply go to wreathsacrossamerica.org/NC0380P.
“If you have served in battle such as I have, the emotions are high,” Hacker said. “One remembers, and one is thankful for life.”