Up & Coming Weekly

November 14, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM November 15-21 UCW 11 Wreaths Across America is prepar- ing for its upcoming wreath-laying ceremony and awaits wreath sponsors and volunteers to line up for this event. is annual event invites everyone to remember those who gave their lives for our country, honor veterans, and teach younger generations about the importance of those who fought to protect our freedoms. e Sandhills State Veterans Cem- etery wreath ceremony is set to take place on December 16 at noon at the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery at 8220 Bragg Blvd. in Spring Lake. A cer- emony will also be taking place at the Fort Liberty Main Post Cemetery. Everyone of all ages and back- grounds is welcome and encouraged to tell friends and family about the op- portunity to honor and remember our troops. is occasion mainly focuses on saying the name of every veteran aloud and laying Remembrance wreaths on their graves to keep our veterans from being forgotten. In 2022, WAA had 3,702 participat- ing locations and, with the help of their volunteers and more than 5,000 sponsorship groups, placed over 2.7 million veterans' wreaths. Founded by Morrill Worcester, Wreaths Across America started with a few surplus wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery and 30 years later became an annual ceremony held nationwide. WAA's yearly pilgrimage, also known as "the world's largest veteran's parade," travels from Har- rington, Maine, to Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C., making multiple stops along the way to talk about Wreaths Across America and their mission to remember, honor and teach. is nonprofit's remembrance of veterans goes beyond this ceremony. eir mission lasts all year and encourages others to do the same for their community and America's veterans. Since 2007, Wreaths Across America has given back over $20 million to lo- cal groups. ey continue to work with other nonprofits to raise funds for their community's needs. eir museum in Columbia Falls, Maine, displays thousands of donated items that help to provide insight and tell stories of those who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military. WAA's Remembrance Tree Program serves as a living memorial to loved ones lost. Replica dog tags are created and attached to the service branch of an evergreen tree in Maine, where the brush is later harvested and made into veteran's wreaths. Ann Provencher, a Wreaths Across America location coordinator who has been with the organization for nearly a decade, said, "I feel it is important to give the proper respect to those who went before us and sacrificed every- thing to defend our country to protect the rights and freedom that we are able to enjoy on a daily basis." Ann, who is a veteran, the spouse of a veteran, and the mother of several veterans, has successfully covered every grave in the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery and helped the Fort Liberty Main Post Cemetery get covered as well. When it comes to teaching younger generations about what all our veter- ans do, Provencher said, "When they can see how thankful a veteran is for being remembered, see how thankful a family is for their loved one is not for- gotten, it makes an impact that can't be forgotten. I encourage service hours [to] be spent doing things like feeding the homeless veterans, assisting the veteran home residents playing bingo, or bringing them care packages, etc." For those volunteering, Provencher reminds volunteers to bundle up for the cold and take their time placing each wreath. "While I want them to enjoy com- ing out and placing wreaths, it isn't about how fast they are placed. In fact, they are taught in the ceremony prior that they are to take their time, how to properly place the wreath, and to speak the name aloud of the veteran they are honoring and to thank them for their service." She reminds us that it's only possible through teamwork and to be a part of that team, whether volunteering at a homeless shelter or donating a few bucks to a charity you care about. "ere are many ways people can help show support for our veterans. Anything from collecting supplies, making homemade items, helping get sponsorships, donating gifts that can be raffled off (to purchase wreaths), filling holiday stockings for single soldiers, adopting a family, adopting a single soldier, visiting the VA state nursing home and hospital to visit with residents and patients, send cards to them as well. Make care packages to be sent to those serving overseas and so many other ways." Provencher and her team thank everyone who volunteers and spon- sors wreaths. Each wreath is $17.00, but with their year-round three-for-two deal, you can purchase three wreaths for the price of two. If you buy a wreath for your loved one and tell the coordinators their name, that wreath is set aside for you to place on their grave. If you are unable to make it to the ceremony, a volunteer will place the wreath for you. To volunteer for this year's wreath- laying ceremony, visit www.wreath- sacrossamerica.org, where you'll find the options to volunteer, sponsor wreaths and invite others to help out. To see the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery WAA page, visit https:// www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/pag- es/16700/Overview/?relatedId=0 FEATURE (Photo courtesy of Wreaths Across America Facebook page.) MAX ATKESON, Staff writer COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomingweekly. com.910-484-6200. Wreaths Across America honors veterans this holiday season by MAX ATKESON Letters to the Editor Do YOU have something to say? We want YOU to be heard! We want EVERYONE to be able to voice their opinions on current community events. Let us be a place to start much needed conversations. ALL VOICES WELCOMED! EMAIL: editor@upandcomingweekly.com CALL: 910-484-6200

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