LINCOLN â€” Eddie and Patty Fox had been familiar with Wreaths Across America's (WAA) work over the years to recognize the courage and sacrifices of U.S. veterans during the holidays, but it wasn't until about two years ago that the couple began to think about how their hometown of Lincoln could assist the WAA's mission.
The Fox's were the driving force behind the effort in 2011 to raise money for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in town, which was dedicated at the Lincoln Senior Center on May 21 of that year. "It was a huge ceremony and over 400 people attended," says Patty.
After the ceremony, she and Eddie, a Vietnam Army veteran, sat down and talked about ways they could take time out amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays to honor and thank veterans for their service and sacrifice.
So, in December of 2011, they coordinated the town's first Wreaths Across America ceremony honoring veterans, which was held at the same Vietnam Veterans Memorial they helped establish earlier in the year.
The event was such a success, that it is being held again this year for the third consecutive year.
The third annual Wreaths Across America ceremony honoring veterans will take place at noon on Saturday, Dec. 14. Wreaths will be placed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Lincoln Senior Center, 150 Jenckes Hill Road, at the same time as the Wreaths Across America wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
"Participants at more than 900 locations across the nation and worldwide will place more than 400,000 donated wreaths this year," says Fox.
The seven ceremonial wreaths in Lincoln will represent the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and POW/MIA. Seven veterans will be chosen to lay the wreaths with the help of Albion Boy Scout Troop 711 and the Lincoln Middle School Junior National Honor Society.
Refreshments will be served following the ceremony.
"It's a beautiful ceremony," says Fox.
Wreaths Across America began more than 19 years ago when the Worcester
Wreath Company in Harrinton, Maine, began a tradition of placing wreaths on the headstones of the nation's fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery during the holidays. Each year, Patriot Guard Riders, a worldwide motorcycle and motor vehicle group with more than 15,000 members nationally, along with other support groups, escort the tractor-trailer trucks loaded with donated wreaths from Maine to Virginia.
This year, the escort started Dec. 8, in Harrington Maine, and finishes on Dec. 14 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Worcester Wreath Company continues to be a major supporter of the project, donating tens of thousands of wreaths over the years.
This year, over 400,000 wreaths will be sponsored by individuals, businesses, and groups from communities nationwide. Wreaths will be placed at more than 900 sites in all 50 states from Maine to Alaska and Hawaii, at several locations in Iraq, and at national cemeteries on foreign soil.
"This is our way to remember all soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who served, honor their sacrifices, and teach younger generations about the high cost of freedom," Fox says.