Wednesday, December 10, 2014

When Your Presence Is the Present

According to the calendar, we are only slightly more than waist deep in that most wonderful time of the year where far more than just the halls end up decked with holly (and tinsel and different kinds of lights (all LEDs and flashing) and ornaments) and most of us wouldn’t know a fa-la-la-la-la if it bit us on the figgy pudding.

Because of the hectic head noise that is now a fixture of our Yuletide preparation for celebration, we end up staring at the trees often without seeing the forest. I hesitated while typing ‘trees’ lest it serve as a trigger that you have yet to get yours and that I've now added another chore to your to-do list.

Let someone else battle the mob at the big-box store in the midst of a.lot of manufactured merriment and mayhem. You and I may be better served if we can collect our thoughts and count our blessings instead of gathering up our purchases and pocketing our change. Recognition of the service and sacrifice of our veterans, and their families, can be poignant anytime but truly timely and appropriate during the traditional holiday season. Doing for others can help us refocus on what this time of year is about for so many, being with those for whom we care and who care for us. 

This Saturday at noon, please consider yourself invited to the Wreaths Across America (WAA) Day observances at Sacred Heart Cemetery to honor veterans during the holiday season. Wreaths Across America began over two decades ago when the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, first started donating and placing wreaths of the headstones of those men and women who are interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Their generosity continues to this day as they donate over 30,000 wreaths every year to communities across the country.

Wreaths Across America has a three-fold mission to Remember, Honor and Teach. Every year this national outreach coordinates wreath laying ceremonies on veterans’ graves on a Saturday in December (this year on the 13th) at Arlington in Virginia as well as veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in each of our 50 states, at sea, and in over two dozen cemeteries in other countries where US military members have been buried.

The American Legion Post 104 will conduct this year's ceremony starting at noon and while the attendance is always good there's always room for one more so you'd be no trouble at all. Seven ceremonial wreaths will be placed to remember all soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who served, honor their sacrifices, and teach our younger generations about the high cost of our freedoms. No matter the temperature and weather conditions, your presence will warm the hearts of the organizers and definitely put a smile on your own face.

Specially designated wreaths for the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and Prisoners of War (POW) and Missing In Action (/MIA) will be placed on memorials during a ceremony that will be simultaneously conducted at over 750 participating locations across the country. Neither we nor those whose sacrifice we are remembering are alone, and that's as it should be, and not just for the holidays.

I’ve attended the Sacred Heart ceremony and while I admire the power of words, I’ll concede I don’t know enough or the right ones to adequately describe an event that is a heart-felt and homegrown acknowledgement of the lives of our departed veterans (of all services and from every conflict and era of our history). It's a gathering and reflection of our community where we remember the fallen, honor those still in service and teach one another that freedom is free only with sacrifice. I’ll look for you Saturday at noon.
-bill kenny

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