January 1, 2016
Hannah Ensley, Editor in Chief
“Remember our fallen U.S. veterans. Honor those who serve. Teach your children the value of freedom”. This is the mission statement of Wreaths Across America, created by Morrill Worcester in 1992. On the second or third Saturday of every December, thousands of volunteers around the nation take to their local cemeteries to honor the veterans who rest there. Initially a tribute only taking place at the Arlington Cemetery, it has increased in popularity nationwide, and volunteers laid over 700,000 wreaths in over 1,000 cemeteries in 2014.
On December 17th, seven members of Pisgah’s National Honor Society met at Greenhill cemetery in Waynesville. At 10am, they set out in the cold, blustery wind to lay wreaths at the headstones in the memorial plot. They were met there by members of the Waynesville branch of the American Legion, who explained to the volunteers how to properly honor the veterans. “We saluted after laying the wreaths, and took a kind of moment of silence for them.” Josh Wilson, a senior member of NHS told me. “It was a really rewarding experience.” I also heard from Ben Baker, another senior member who attended. He immediately lit up when I mentioned the occasion, and excitedly told me about how much he enjoyed it. “I really liked meeting all the different people and learning about the veterans.” Baker explained.
I spoke to Abby Shoemaker next, a sophomore member who volunteered for this event as well. When asked about how she was personally affected by this opportunity, she described the emotional impact it had. “When we were all standing there, and they started playing the music, it was really moving. It was also really interesting to read the markers, to see who they were and what war they were in.” she said. Another belief of the Wreaths Across America group is that saying the veteran’s name and reading their graves as the volunteers place the wreaths is fundamental to their goal of honoring the veterans’ lives and what they sacrificed.
After the volunteers finished up at Greenhill, they shared a meal with the American Legion members, which Eli Long, a senior member, said he really enjoyed. Overall, the participating members of National Honor Society greatly appreciated this special opportunity, and many anticipate carrying on this tradition for years to come.