Chapter resolutions; Central Pennsylvania Chapter kicks off holiday season by honoring veterans' selfless service.
RESOLVE to make this your BEST Year ever!
Fifteen years ago, Morrill Worcester of Maine decided that all deceased veterans need to be both honored and remembered, but in a way that teaches younger generations of Americans about the true meaning of freedom. Beginning with only the graves at Arlington National Cemetery, Worcester and his Worcester Wreath Company eventually expanded the effort to more than 200 participating national, state, and other cemeteries across the US.
As the annual numbers grew into the thousands, the real logistics challenge was finding enough volunteers to place a wreath at the gravesites of individual veterans. By comparison, moving wreaths from Maine to the cemeteries was comparatively easy. Those who support our National Defense never shy away from a challenge, and NDTA members are no exception. Enter the Central Pennsylvania chapter. It was quick to realize that the very end of what the professionals call a few-to-many supply chain often requires the mobilization and coordination of a legion of volunteers to execute the very personal wreath delivery mission to so many individual locations on a single day.
The task began with NDTA members, but is in the process of radiating out to myriad organizations where members have contacts, including the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, various veterans associations, church groups, and student organizations from local colleges and universities. But placement is just one element as the chapter also attempts to seek out those individuals and organizations that would be willing to also underwrite the project.
On December 15, eight Central PA chapter members, their family members and neighbors, and Faith and Joe Torsani participated in the ceremony at Fort Indian Town Gap National Cemetery. The ceremony was the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season, solemnly remembering and honoring those veterans having given so much of themselves, some of whom, lying in repose, paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Others took on this wonderful mission as well, including Veterans of every conflict since WWII, Sons of the American Revolution, Gold Star Mothers, Civil Air Patrol, US Naval Sea Cadet Corps, PA National Guard, Patriot Guard Riders, and numerous local companies.
Education has always been one of the objectives of the NDTA, and although this was a different type of logistics problem and its lesson was markedly different from our other educational activities, the chapter could ignore neither the logistics challenge nor the opportunity to educate younger generations of the sacrifices made by so many generations of veterans that came before them that were willing to unselfishly give their lives in the interest of preserving our freedom.
Though the Central Pennsylvania Chapter was certainly pleased with completion of this local mission, its members feel compelled to tell the story with the hopes of energizing other NDTA chapters nationwide. "It's a big challenge for us locally," said Wes "Shorty" Salmans, the chapter coordinator, "but it is a much taller challenge nationally, and the NDTA is just the organization to take it on." Therefore, the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the NDTA formally challenges each and every chapter, NDTA corporate sponsors, and National Headquarters to actively promote and participate in next year's Wreaths Across America ceremonies. This is something we can all set our mind to--no matter where our Chapter is located. Start planning early and get more information at the website: http://www.wreaths-acrossamerica.org
Morrill Worcester, event founder and President of Worcester Wreath Company, spoke with NDTA headquarters to share how the WREATH ACROSS AMERICA (WAA) project began and how it has expanded overseas
The idea sprang from a childhood experience. "I used to deliver newspapers when I was a boy and in '62, I carried so many that I won a contest and a trip to Washington, DC. It was exciting for a youngster from Maine to be in our Nation's capital! When I visited Arlington National Cemetery, the sight of so many white headstones raised in silent salute was etched in my memory forever. Later, in 1992, as our company was preparing decorations for the holiday season, we mistakenly made too many wreaths, so I decided to donate the overrun to Arlington. It took six hours to place them at 5000 headstones then. It became a tradition that we have proudly followed ever since. I have made it my business ... to NEVER forget."
2007 was a benchmark year! Ten thousand wreaths were delivered and displayed at Arlington National Cemetery, an additional 20,000 wreaths were placed at participating locations around the United States (see NDTA's Central PA Chapter story), and wreaths were sent overseas to 24 cemeteries in the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Italy, and the Philippines in WAA's first international effort. 2007 also marked the second year of widespread stateside delivery (in the past 15 years, wreaths were only delivered to Arlington).
WAA's original concept remains true to its original intent. The number of wreaths that are donated varies according to sponsorship campaigns and volunteer recruitment, however, seven ceremonial wreaths, emblazoned with colorful miniature flags, are always reverently dedicated at each location. They honor all military branches including a separate wreath for those Missing in Action or who are Prisoners of War. A wreath tribute to the Merchant Marines was also added this year. Location recipients include national cemeteries, regional cemeteries with sections dedicated to veterans, and military monuments.
Wreath delivery from Maine to Arlington has evolved into an event in its own right. Tobin Slaven, spokesperson, told NDTA that this year's convoy stretched for nearly three miles and included State Troopers and Patriot Guard Riders, who escort families of fallen heroes at internment. The convoy made 22 different stops at schools, VA homes, and senior centers along the way. Arlington makes a striking panorama; many wreaths are used because on-the-ground support is available in great numbers. Slaven adds, "The long-term goal, as more and more wreaths come out of Maine bound for locations around the country and as on-the-ground resources are found, is to extend the Arlington-like experience at smaller cemeteries."
Aside from Washington, DC, destinations in Texas, Ohio, and North Carolina welcomed the largest shipments. UPS provided significant shipping help, along with BOYLE TRANSPORTATION, another NDTA corporate member. Smaller trucking companies and even individuals stepped up to the cause, like Pat Mimick, an independent trucker out of South Carolina who donated her rig for a haul to Texas and Kansas. "This effort can't happen without the fine people and companies supporting Wreaths Across America. It doesn't matter if it's one or a thousand--all is equal in spirit," explained Slaven. The organization has need for local cemetery site leaders, on-the-ground contacts, or logistical coordinators. The need is also present overseas.
Going international was a big challenge. "Wreaths could not be imported since plants may carry bugs and disease, so we needed a back up plan," Slaven continued. "Artificial wreaths were considered, but we used contributed funds and contacted FTP Florist for direct purchase and drop shipment." Wreath dedications happen simultaneously at 12 noon EST on December 15, which further complicates the overseas logistics.
Sgt. Mac Foundation
On the morning of December 1, ABF assisted the Sgt. Mac foundation in delivering 2000 wreaths to Quantico National Cemetery. The facility is located on land that was part of the US Marine Corps training base adjacent to Quantico in Prince William County, Virginia; the land has been used by the military for more than 200 years. ABF made the haul from Gettysbury to Quantico National Cemetery. Marine Sgt. Eric McColley now rests at Quantico, interred in 2006 after a helicopter crash off the coast of Africa took his life.
Within a week of the accident, John McColley, Eric's father, created the Sgt. Mac Foundation in his son's memory. At first, the Foundation sold t-shirts and reached out to wounded veterans in need. Then, while placing a wreath next to Eric's headstone, they were inspired to launch a new project. "Every time we went we'd bring him a fresh wreath," John explained. "Then we'd pick a Marine around him to give his old wreath to. The wreaths started spreading with each visit."
In 2007, the Sgt. Mac Foundation raised funds to cover 2000 Christmas wreaths. Military regulations allow christmas wreaths to be displayed on gravesites from December 1 to January 31. So on the morning of December 1, the McColleys and about 25 volunteers attached bows to the wreaths and reverently placed them on 2000 gravesites. Shipping was donated by ABF, which transported the christmas wreaths from Sgt. McColley's hometown of Gettysburg to provided the 2000 wreaths at cost.
To learn more about the Sgt. Mac Foundation or to make a donation, visit sgtmac.org or call 252-480-1697.
A FEW MORE IDEAS
ADOPT A PLATOON
The Adopta Platoon Soldier Support Effort[TM] founded in 1998 is a nonprofit 501C-3 organization managed nationwide by volunteer mothers to ensure that deployed US Service members in all branches of the military are not forgotten by providing needed mail support and to promote patriotism in our schools and communities. To provide a better deployment quality of life, lift morale, and assist military families, the AAP created projects that meet the needs of military requests, established special projects for holidays, and assigns individual morale lifting mail support to service members of all branches of the US military serving their Nation around the world.
SALUTE AMERICA'S HEROES
The Coalition to Salute America's Heroes was created to provide a way for individuals, corporations, and others to help our severely wounded and disabled Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans and their families rebuild their lives. Donate or volunteer your time and talents to these different Salute programs:
* Emergency Financial Aid -- Direct financial aid to soldiers and their families in crisis.
* Family Support Network -- Concerts, sporting events, special outings to help reunite families, therapeutic day camp for children of wounded heroes, and more.
* Wounded Hero Career Network -- Programs that assist wounded Vets (and their spouses) in transitioning from their career in the military to exploring options in the civilian workplace.
* Homes for Wounded Heroes -- Disability-adapted homes that are nearly cost-free for wheelchair-bound and blind veterans.
* Road to Recovery Conference -- An all-expense paid educational and service event for wounded heroes and their families.
UNITED THROUGH READING--MILITARY PROGRAM
The Military Program, an underway quality-of-life program for military families, helps keep parents and children connected while separated during long deployments, through the medium of reading aloud on videotape. This program can be utilized by all deployed personnel as they may choose to read aloud to a younger brother or sister, grandchild, or even a child they are mentoring.
* Deployed parents and children can communicate in a meaningful way during separations.
* Parents are trained in techniques to make the videotaped reading personal and interactive.
* Family morale is boosted and reinforced parental support is felt by the spouse at home.
* Children's fears about the parent's absence are eased and anxiety is reduced upon reunion.
* Volunteer Deployment and Home front Coordinators are trained to manage the program.
Your Chapter may want to help an NDTA grassroots humanitarian effort that began at Camp Alamo, Afghanistan. The effort consists of sending donations of school items and clothing to needy youngsters in Kabul via joint forces based at Camp Alamo. To learn more, contact OperationBackpack@ndtahq.com.
Valley of the Sun
Resolved to Helping
CHILDREN IN NEED
On December 11, 2007, seven members of the Valley of the Sun Chapter visited the West Valley Child Crisis Center (WVCCC) in Glendale, AZ, to deliver more than 75 gifts to the children for the Christmas holiday. The Chapter has been supporting the WVCCC for the past two years with holiday gifts, volunteer help, and financial assistance. In 2008, the Chapter will hold a separate fundraiser to provide for an outside play area covering to protect the children from the sun. On any given day, you can find children that have been removed from their homes by Child Protective Services (CPS) for reasons such as broken limbs, burns, cuts, bruises, emotional or sexual abuse, abandonment, or extreme neglect--sadly caused mostly at the hands of the people that they love and trust the most. Chapter members also had an opportunity to tour the WVCCC and meet with some of the young residents as they decorated for the holiday season. The newest resident, named Crystal by staff members, was only 3 weeks old; she was abandoned in the nearby Salt River the day she was born. Alicia and Marilyn took turns holding her as Yvonne played with one of the other girls in the game room. We are very proud to be associated with this community support effort and plan to do more in 2008.
A Safe Haven ... Since 1985, West Valley Child Crisis Center has provided temporary shelter and supervision for children who are victims of, or at risk of, abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Safe Haven provides a safe, nurturing, home-like environment staffed by quality care providers who interact with the community to increase awareness of, and work to prevent, the cycle of child abuse.
Here's a good New Year's Resolution. Set yourself to designing an on-going Emergency Preparedness Program for your community--in local schools, at senior citizen centers, or within a working environment. Emergency Preparedness has been a key element of the NDTA mission at the Chapter level practically since its founding, but the concept takes on renewed urgency when we consider the impact of natural and terrorist related disasters. NDTA offered a tabletop exercise on Emergency Preparedness at the Charleston Forum specifically for members involved in Emergency Preparedness at the chapter level, and the leader of that exercise, Professor Irvin Varkonyi (email@example.com) is available to answer questions you may have about starting a program.
A good starting point is the score sheet for the International Chapter of the Year Award. Emergency Preparedness is worth 30 points out of a possible 100 points. Describe how your Chapter has:
1. Developed an effective preparedness planning program
2. Actually responded to disasters
3. Participated in emergency exercise programs
4. Developed other programs that strengthen the community's disaster response capability
Resolve to compete for the International and A-35 Chapter of the Year Awards.
If your Chapter is considering starting an Emergency Preparedness Program, we have added a Statement of Understanding with the Red Cross to the NDTA Home Page that can be used as a sample guide. See http://www.ndtahq.com/download/NDTARCSOU-July15-04.pdf.
Thank you to the NDTA Washington, DC Chapter for sharing this resource.
Disclaimer: Options presented are by no means encyclopedic. Information is intended as suggestions to build on.
REMINDER TO OUR CORPORATE MEMBERS
We are gearing up for our 2008 Almanac publication.
Please make sure your company profile has been forwarded to the NDTA.
For questions, please contact:
Karen Schmitt, Managing Editor, DTJ (firstname.lastname@example.org)
by John Fasching and Richard Young, PhD
Consider a Wreath Laying Project for Memorial Day or Veteran's Day
Your Chapter might consider:
Acting as an on-the-ground coordinator to make arrangements (contact and ensure approval with your local cemetery; coordinate volunteers for wreath placement); raising funds to offset wreath costs; and assisting in transport or identifying trucking companies that might want to participate.
** Freedom isn't free, and we'll never forget!
Looking for Speakers?
Salute America's Heroes has a list of speakers available who will share inspirational stories. You might consider asking one of these heroes to join your next Chapter meeting. Biographies are online. Just call 914-432-5400 to get more information.
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|Title Annotation:||round up; National Defense Transportation Association|
|Author:||Fasching, John; Young, Richard|
|Publication:||Defense Transportation Journal|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2008|
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