LINCOLN — Eddie and Patty Fox had been familiar with Wreaths Across America's work over the years to recognize the courage and sacrifices of our veterans, but it wasn't until last year that the couple began to think about how their home town of Lincoln could assist the mission.
The Foxes were the driving force behind the effort last year to raise money for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was dedicated at the Lincoln Senior Center on May 21, 2011.
"It was a huge ceremony and over 400 people attended," said 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 last year, 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.
The second annual Wreaths Across America ceremony will take place at noon next Saturday, Dec. 15. 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, in Virginia.
"Participants at more than 750 locations across the nation and worldwide will place more than 400,000 donated wreaths this year," said 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," said 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 starts tomorrow, Dec. 9, in Harrington, Maine, and finishes on Dec. 15 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Worcester Wreath Company continues to be a major supporter of the project, having donated over 25,000 total wreaths in 2008.
This year, over 400,000 wreaths will be sponsored by individuals, businesses, and groups from communities nationwide. Wreaths will be placed at more than 750 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. We honor their sacrifices, and teach younger generations about the high cost of freedom," Fox said.