15 December 2017. Arlington, Va. Mt Airy composite squadron partnered with Maryland Wing (MDWG) members, other Civil Air Patrol (CAP) regional representatives and community volunteers at the Wreaths Across America (WAA) annual event held at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). Occurring yearly in December, National Wreaths Across America Day, brings together volunteers around the nation with a mission to Remember, Honor and Teach at coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and at over 1,400 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad. CAP, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, has been an avid supporter of Wreaths Across America and its mission since the program’s inception in 1992.
CAP is committed to encourage and train its members to provide community services that include honor and color guards for ceremonies, logistic distribution, radio communications, sponsorship and aerospace education. Mt Airy squadron worked to raise wreath sponsorships for the ANC event during the 2017. In preparation for the event, cadet major (C/Maj) Daniel Flanick discussed the value of freedom and trained Mt Airy seniors, cadets and community volunteers in the customs and courtesies to be observed when laying wreaths; remembering the fallen and honoring those who served.
On the National WAA Day, Mt Airy cadets provided an honor guard and joined with over 75,000 other volunteers in placing wreaths upon ANC gravesites of the men and women who have served America. This year’s large crowd at ANC placed more than 245,000 wreaths at gravesites of U.S. service members. It was an awe inspiring day as participating volunteers stopped to observe and photograph the many solemn deeds. Throughout the day, many participants and attendees were heard to comment “I like the show of respect.”
Mt Airy squadron members returned to Arlington National Cemetery on January 20, 2018, to assist in the cleanup day, commonly known as ‘Wreaths Out.’ The day’s mild temperature and clear skies brought volunteers out in droves. By 8:45 a.m., the cemetery headstones were clear of wreaths, the dumpsters full and the cleanup complete. “This is a day where the wreaths so solemnly placed on the headstones of our nation’s fallen service members and their families are respectfully removed by volunteers,” said Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, Katharine Kelley.
Taking into account the well-known historical sites in ANC, cadets and seniors took advantage of the opportunity to also view the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visit the Arlington House, John F. Kennedy’s Eternal Flame and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Witnessing the time-honored ceremonies, discovering the rich history and reflecting on the many sacrifices made by our military men and women, the Mt Airy members achieved the Wreaths Across America mission to Remember, Honor and Teach.