National Park Trust and Wreaths Across America (WAA) worked together this year to teach a new generation the importance of our nation’s memorials. Students from West Education Campus (DC) assisted Gold and Blue Star families with laying 140 wreaths on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Friday, December 14, 2018. In the process, students formed emotional connections with the families they helped, understanding their loss, and learning their stories.
Based in Maine, Wreaths Across America’s mission is to “Remember – Honor – Teach”. Buddy Bison Students learned about the WAA mission and our memorials prior to the moving ceremony, but none of them anticipated how much more they would learn by meeting the families of our fallen soldiers.
Anderson, a 5th grader from West Education Campus (DC) speaks with a Vietnam Veteran.
“It was so powerful. We told the students what they would be doing and why it was important, but as they spoke with the families and joined them in saluting the engraved names, it really impacted the students. I couldn’t have taught them the emotion they felt first hand,” stated Heimy Salgado, teacher at West Education Campus.
Gabriel, a 4th grader from West Education Campus (DC) salutes the memorial with a Gold Star father.
One wreath was laid at each of the 140 panels of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by a Gold or Blue Star family member along with a student and a Maine Sheriffs Association officer (the Maine Sheriffs Association has worked with WAA since they began bringing wreaths to Washington, DC). The slow procession of the wreath-layings allowed time for each family to share stories about their loved ones honored at the memorial, and for their name to be read allowed and saluted by the Maine Sheriffs. One student, Carl, asked the Maine Sheriff officer what was the meaning behind this gesture. She graciously explained that is was a sign of respect then showed him step-by-step how to properly salute.
After the event, many students went home to research the names they had read, learning about who they were and where they were from. They also were eager to share stories with their classmates about the families they met and the soldiers they learned about.
“I was sad to see so many names on the Vietnam Memorial but I learned how each one of them sacrificed their lives for us. I won’t ever forget this experience,” said 5th grade student Talita.
Darren, a 4th grade student explained that “this was an emotional experience and it allowed me to connect with all the veterans and their family members.”
“I didn’t expect to connect to the family so fast. As we saluted his son’s name, I could feel what he felt. I know now the sacrifice they made,” said Gabriel, a 4th grader after laying a wreath with a Gold Star father.
Carl, a 4th grader from West Education Campus (DC) learning to salute from a Maine Sheriff officer.
National Park Trust and West Education Campus were honored to assist Wreaths Across America with this ceremony. Together we are teaching our children to remember the important sacrifice of our nation’s veterans and military families.
For more information on this event see our press release.
December 12, 2018 (Washington, DC) – In advance of National Wreaths Across America Day, National Park Trust and the non-profit Wreaths Across America will host several wreath laying ceremonies on the National Mall to honor veterans and fallen service members from the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the World War II Memorial on Friday, December 14, 2018.
As part of Wreaths Across America’s mission to “Remember – Honor – Teach,” forty students from National Park Trust’s Buddy Bison School Program (West Education Campus, a Washington, DC public school) will be assisting in the ceremony as they learn the importance of the memorials and the purpose behind honoring these memorials during the holiday season. The ceremonies on the National Mall are done in collaboration with the Maine Sheriffs Association.
“We are pleased to be able to work with Wreaths Across America and National Park Service to educate our Buddy Bison students about the importance of remembering and honoring those who have sacrificed their lives for our nation,” stated Grace Lee, National Park Trust executive director.
Speakers will include: Major General James T. Jackson, U.S. Army (Retired) Director, U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration (Vietnam War Memorial Speaker); David L. Bernhardt, United States Deputy Secretary of the Interior (WWII Memorial Speaker); Morrill & Karen Worcester, founder and executive director (respectively), Wreaths Across America; Wayne Hanson, chairman of the board of directors, Wreaths Across America.
The ceremonies will begin at the Vietnam War Memorial at 1:30pm. All ceremonies will be open to the public. Coinciding with these events, the Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit will be stationed on the National Mall throughout the day (8 am – 1 pm) and open to the public.
ABOUT WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA
Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s mission – Remember, Honor, Teach – is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 1,600 cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and 26 overseas. To learn more, please visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org
ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST
National Park Trust (NPT) is a non-profit dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. NPT is the only land trust with a comprehensive mission of protecting national parks through land acquisition, and creating a pipeline of future park stewards by getting kids to parks. Since 1983, NPT has completed 70 land projects in 31 states, 1 US Territory, and Washington, DC. This school year, NPT will provide an estimated 25,000 under-served kids with park trips through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison Programs and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support Title I schools.
Find out more at www.parktrust.org
ABOUT MAINE SHERIFF’S ASSOCIATION
The Maine Sheriffs’ Association (MSA) is a non-profit organization that coordinates law enforcement and corrections activities with other related agencies. It works to improve and professionalize the sheriffs’ offices in Maine and to assure that all citizens receive the highest quality law enforcement and jail services in an efficient, courteous, and humane manner.
To learn more, visit http://www.mainesheriffs.org