Wreaths Across America ceremony held in Caribou

    This time of year, with the holidays fast approaching and everyone gearing up for Christmas and the New Year, it is when families join together to celebrate the festive season. However, as many families sit down for their holiday meals, there’s an empty seat that was once occupied by a family member or loved one who is serving overseas, or for veterans who have passed away while making the ultimate sacrifice for their country. That’s why on December 13, veterans and community members gathered at the Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery for national “Wreaths Across America Day.” The ceremony was held at veterans cemeteries across the nation, in honor of all those veterans who have passed on, as well as those that are still alive today.

    During the ceremony, one by one, seven wreaths were laid at the NMVC in remembrance of the approximately 600 veterans buried there. Each wreath represents one branch of the armed forces, including the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and lastly, all the POW/MIAs, who are still missing to this day. Wreaths Across America is recognized nationally, and was celebrated in over 800 locations throughout the country, where ceremonies very similar to the one in Caribou were held.
These wreaths are being laid to remember and support all those who have served in our military. The wreaths aren’t just being laid in northern Maine.
“This is happening at every veterans cemetery in the United States and around the world including Arlington National Cemetery,” said Andre Dumas, VFW state adjuntant.
Wreaths Across America began in 1992 when Worcester Wreaths had a surplus of wreaths that with the help of Sen. Olympia Snowe were placed at Arlington National Cemetery. It grew into much more explained Roger Felix Post 9389 Sr. Vice Commander. “A moment in time and realize that there are people here that we have lost. They can’t be here to celebrate with us. And, also there are families that have lost many loved ones. Just the simple notion of laying a wreath allows us to remember, and let people know that we are never going to forget those who fought and died for our country.”
Ceremonies like this one began on Saturday at 12 p.m. in accordance to the one being held at Arlington National Cemetery. It serves as a thank you to all those who have served.
“It is always special to be part of any ceremony that honors and remembers our veterans,” said Felix. “The feeling I have from being one of the veterans who lays a wreath in honor of the many is more than symbolic, it fills me with pride and hope that everyone will remember those who have defended our freedoms.”
“This is symbolism — this is an attempt to educate the young people as to what we are doing for the veterans. How are we respecting our soldiers? How are we respecting the families? This is a thank you for serving our country,” said Dumas.
For veterans like Felix, it isn’t about the ceremony, but it is about the thanks that he and other veterans like him feel. “My satisfaction is always seeing people from the community. Sometimes, it sparks a little bit more interest in them to come out and say thank you. Most of the soldiers I have ever met whether sailors, airmen, marines, the one thing they want more than anything is just a simple thanks.”
“These ceremonies are vital in ensuring our community and its members never forget that without these brave men and women who have come before them, we would surely not be enjoying life as we know it,” Felix added. “The ceremony allows the community to, for just a brief moment, think about the many who have answered the call for freedom and the ones who never came home.”
When asked what made this ceremony unique and different from many of the other veterans ceremonies, Felix explained that it is the totality of the honoring that makes this day so special.
“This ceremony is different because it honors all veterans no matter when, where or how they served, and being so close to the holidays this ceremony is different to me because it makes me more mindful that when I wake up tomorrow morning, there are still soldiers in harm’s way, far away from their families, giving everything they have in support of me. This ceremony differs in some ways because its just a simple wreath but the thoughts and prayers behind it go on forever.”
For more information on Wreaths across America visit there website at wreathsacrossamerica.org.