Wreaths Across American

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Representatives of area veterans gathered to lay wreaths at Carl Miller Park

State Sen. Tim Corder and Col. Jerrold Flyer of the 366 Medical Group at MHAFB served as guest speakers for the first annual Wreaths Across American event at Carl Miller Park on a chilly Saturday morning.

The event, sponsored by American Legion Post #26 and the Mountain Home chapter of the Idaho Motorcycle Club, was attended by several Mountain Home residents and dignitaries including Mountain Home Mayor Tom Rist.

The event served as a day of remembrance for the individuals who gave their lives for a greater cause in providing the freedom, that Americans flourish in today.

Corder spoke about his time as a former Vietnam veteran (he served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade) and how he is the lone veteran in the 35-member Idaho State Senate.

"It's my privilege to remind them of the sacrifices that people have made for them, giving them the right to govern you for all of you."

Corder commented on how the event is important toward educating the children on the importance of Wreaths Across America.

"I think that's one of the greatest things that you can do, to educate the children on what you have done for them, what the veterans all over have done for them and more than that, what they will continue to do for the children of Idaho and the children of our country."

Corder highlighted his speech on individuals who have made just as big a sacrifice as the veterans, the children who learned their father and mother won't be coming back and the husband or wife who was told their spouses won't be coming back.

"Day after day, year after year, their sacrifice continues," said Corder.

Corder read portions of a letter from an eastern Idaho veteran and owner of a contracting company.

In the letter, the veteran addressed how he was the most decorated veteran in Idaho and asked Corder if he could aid the veteran in acquiring any bids that came up in the state.

Corder wrote the veteran back and refused his request. "Because, I'm thinking of the children, whose fathers never came home, aren't their sacrifices as great as yours," said Corder in reply to the letter.

In closing, Corder said, "We must never get into a match to see who sacrifices the most. Every sacrifice is great, every one of them. We won't make ours less than it is, but we must never make it more than it was."

Flyer began his speech by admitting he had never heard of Wreaths Across America, but after taking the time to research and learn more about the tribute, Flyer felt honored to be a part of the event.

Flyer talked about the history of the event, including the inspiration for the event's creator, Morrill Worcester, President of Worcester Wreath Company.

On a trip to the nation's capital, then twelve-year-old Morrill visited Arlington National Cemetery and the experience left a lasting impression on Worcester.

Once Worcester became a successful entrepenuer, he never forgot his visit to Arlington and realized that the success he had earned was due to the efforts of those veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice . He decided to "give back."

When Worcester created Wreathes Across America, he had a vision: Remember-Honor-Teach.

* Remember the fallen.

* Honor those who serve.

* Teach our children the value of freedom.

Flyer talked about why this event is celebrated, when Veteran's Day was already celebrated and Memorial Day will be celebrated in May.

"Well, I submit to you we can never say thank you enough to our veterans and those who serve now," said Flyer.

Flyer described the event as more of a personal tribute to the veterans.

"Each fallen veteran gets his or her own wreath. And as wreaths are lain on the individual graves we can all take a moment, look at the names, consider the age at which they died, think about their stories, and reflect on their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families left behind."

Following Flyer's speech, at exactly 10 a.m. Mountain Home, and other communities in Idaho, such as Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Boise and Wendell, joined together with several other state and national cemeteries all across the country in a simultaneous presentation of wreathes honoring veterans from the US Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Navy and for Prisoners of War.

"I am very honored to be invited to attend the ceremony, and to be involved in it was a bigger honor," said Petty Officer 1st Class Christina Hays of the United States Navy.

A notable wreath presenter was Bill Braye, a retired Chief Warrant Officer 3rd class, who served in both Vietnam and World War II. Braye was a WWII POW from April 6, 1942, until the end of the war. During his service, Braye was the recipient of four Purple Hearts. "It's quite an honor," said Braye following the event.

The event closed with a playing of taps and a 21-gun salute from the American Legion Post #26 Honor Guard.

"For our first event, it was great. Our speakers were fantastic, and I think we made history today for Mountain Home," said Tom Coester, commander of American Legion Post #26.

Last year, 286 communities from all over America laid 32,553 wreathes to honor veterans.

and this year over 100,000 wreaths is expected to be laid in 350 locations from all 50 U.S. States and Puerto Rico.

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