SALISBURY – An organization’s annual wreath-laying initiative made its way to the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center last week to honor America’s veterans.
Last Thursday, a convoy of motorcycles, police cars and tractor-trailers with the national nonprofit Wreaths Across America arrived at the Wicomico War Veterans Memorial located in front of the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center to join partner Perdue Farms and its truck drivers in laying seven remembrance wreaths – one for each branch of the military and one for prisoners of war and those missing in action – at the monument.
Each year, Wreaths Across America makes its way from Harrington, Maine, to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia to deliver and place wreaths at each of the gravesites.
The project, started by Worcester Wreath Company owner Morrill Worcester in 1992, is part of the organization’s mission to remember the fallen, honor those who have served and teach future generations the cost of freedom.
For 11 years, Perdue Farms and its truck drivers have partnered with the organization to deliver more than 175,000 wreaths. This year, the company’s drivers will deliver more than 25,000 wreaths to locations such as the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, the United States Military Academy West Point Cemetery in New York, Arlington National Cemetery and the Wicomico War Veterans Memorial in Salisbury.
Last Thursday, Perdue truck drivers had the opportunity to recognize and honor Wicomico’s veterans in a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial, which lists the names of 191 local men from World War I to present who fought and died in service to their country.
Speaker Keith Clark, a military veteran and Perdue truck driver, told the crowd he and his fellow drivers were proud and humbled to participate in the ceremony and partner with the nonprofit.
“It’s a small act that goes a long way to celebrate their lives and keep the memory of our veterans alive,” he said.
Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America, said the ceremony is meant to recognize and remember U.S. veterans and carry on their stories.
“You live to fight another day so that you can show the world that America is not a landmass. America is right here,” she said, pointing to her heart. “So we carry those stories.”
Wayne Hanson, chairman of the Wreaths Across America Board of Directors, shared with the audience the importance of remembering each veteran’s name.
“We die twice,” he said. “We die once when your heart stops beating and you take your last breath, but you die a second and final time when your name is said for the very last time. So we want to remember our veterans and say their names as we place those wreaths down because every one of those stones you put a wreath on has a story behind it … We can’t forget. We remember those stories and we remember those veterans.”
In addition to Perdue Farms, Wreaths Across America was welcomed by citizens, veterans, law enforcement agencies, first responders, elected leaders, America’s Gold Star Families and several of the organization’s partners.
“Wreaths Across America exist today because of the individuals and communities across the country like that of Salisbury who, like my husband who started bringing wreaths to Arlington 26 years ago, want to do something to show their gratitude,” Worcester wrote in a statement. “Placing a wreath is a simple gesture, but people coming together across the county to Remember, Honor and Teach, is what makes us all part of a larger community of Americans.”