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Wreaths Across America 2020
A meaningful celebration was given at Wellsboro High School on Saturday (Dec. 19th), as the local chapter of “Wreathes Across America” remembered the lives and sacrifice of fallen veterans. Melanie Berndtson (Agriscience Teacher at WHS) and Natasha Maddox (chairperson of Wellsboro Cemetery Wreaths Across America) were instrumental in executing the event, and explained the cause further. The Wreaths Across America program honors veterans by placing wreaths on their gravesites every holiday season. “This helps us as community members and citizens of the United States remember, honor, and teach others about the sacrifices that veterans have given, and the service that they were able to give to our country,” said Melanie.
This organization comes from humble beginnings, as a wreath maker in Maine was left with an excess of wreaths one year. He received approval to lay them on gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery. Upon hearing of his display, others joined the cause, and the movement has been growing ever since. “This is a program that now has over 1700 locations across the United States, where communities all over are recognizing veterans for their service. And, there are millions of wreaths placed every year around our country. So, it’s a really fantastic story of a project that started with just one person, and the impact that has grown in a ripple effect around our country,” explained Melanie. When describing why this cause was so important to her, Natasha said, “I really care for that cause, and recognizing those veterans. Even though there’s Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, there should be some sort of remembrance during the holiday season.” Natasha comes from a heritage of service to our country, and is purposeful in honoring their sacrifices that have afforded the freedoms and advantages of so many.
After a fervent address from Natasha, in which she highlighted the importance of appreciating our freedoms that cost lives and teaching the next generation what it is to live freely, the ceremony of laying the wreaths began. In attendance were many veterans and active service members (listed below) to help lay the wreaths. Veteran Tim Swan played the bagpipes, as well.
This year there were 440 wreaths laid out in the Wellsboro cemetery, which holds a total of 750 veterans. In order to ensure that every local veteran who has been laid to rest is esteemed with a wreath, donations can be made to the program. Searching “Grand Canyon FFA” on the Wreaths Across America Website will lead you to a donation page, or there is the option of turning in a physical form with your donation at the Wellsboro High School Office.
Veterans and Active Service Members who participated in laying wreaths. An unending debt of gratitude is owed to you and your fellow officers.
-Kevin Davis, Retired Army National Guard, Sergeant 1st Class
-Corporal Kaleb Smith, active serviceman of 3.5 years (E-4)
-Tad Culkin, retired Master Sergeant, PA Army National Guard
-Jim Bodine, retired Coast Guard 3rd Class Petty Officer (E-4), and current Chief of Police
– Frederick Rote, Current Army National Guard Tank Commander and Staff Sergeant (E-6)
-Tim Cleveland, retired Airforce Master Sergeant (E-7), current Tioga County Director of Veteran Affairs
Also, special thanks to Luc Pecynski, Current US Army Reserves Chief Warrant Officer 3 and all members of the Tioga County PA Honor Guard who gave the rifle salute and played TAPS at the end of the ceremony.
From Dawn Pletcher, of Goodies For Our Troops:
“From now until January 15, 2021, for each donation of $15, Wreaths Across America will give Wellsboro Cemetery TWO (2) wreaths. You can specify a specific Veteran’s grave for your wreaths, and you can pick up your wreath(s) to place on Veterans’ graves in different Cemeteries. www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org/pages/162919 or call toll-free 877-385-9504 Option 1 to order your wreaths! Please specify Wellsboro Cemetery – Grand Canyon FFA ..
Thank you so much for helping place a wreath on EVERY VETERAN’s GRAVE at Wellsboro Cemetery next year!”
Videography: Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Writing: Amiee Jones
Correspondent: Emma Brandenburg
Produced by Vogt Media
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