Veteran News Brief

Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America is a non-profit organization best known for its annual wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and more than 900 locations nationwide and overseas. The mission is to Remember, Honor, and Teach about the service and sacrifices of our veterans and to help our children understand the value of freedom.

Service men and women sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year to preserve our freedoms.

With over 5,000 veterans buried in local cemeteries, the Owego Veterans Memorial Wreath Team is looking for an overwhelming response from individual families to go to a cemetery in Tioga and Bradford Counties and place a wreath on a veteran’s grave.

Gold Star Mothers and Families who have lost a son in the service of our country in any war will have a wreath at their son’s grave. Families of veterans are encouraged to place a wreath at their veteran’s grave.

The local vision of 100 percent coverage for 2014 is an ambitious initiative and can be achieved. Here’s how. Each family participates. All veterans and auxiliary organization have active involvement. All churches and their youth groups participate. Active support comes from all community organizations and businesses.

Success depends on people buying or making a wreath for a veteran’s grave and taking it to the cemetery of their choice. Churches help by taking the initiative to adopt a cemetery and place a wreath at its main entrance. Pastors may encourage participation in the Wreaths Across America program during their services on Sunday, Nov. 30, and Dec. 7 Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Veteran organizations are encouraged to hold wreath-laying services at their community’s veteran’s memorials. Organizations include the Nichols American Legion for the Town of Nichols area; the Waverly VFW and American Legion and Auxiliaries for the Village of Waverly and Town of Barton areas; the Candor American Legion for the Town of Candor area; and the Spencer Van Etten VFW and Ladies Auxiliary for the Town of Spencer area.

Veterans from Newark Valley, Berkshire and Richford must take the initiative for their communities. Owego area veterans are asked to check cemeteries in the Town of Owego and Eastern Town of Tioga areas for enwreathed veterans graves.

Evergreen wreaths with red bows will be placed in front of the Tioga County WWI, WWII, Tioga County All Who Served, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan Memorials and Civil War Memorials in the Courthouse Square. These wreaths recognize the sacrifice our veterans and their families have made for our country.

Wreaths at Veteran Monuments in Owego, Nichols, Candor, Spencer/Van Etten, Waverly and the Valley will be placed by local VFW, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans, Veterans of Modern Warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tioga County Marine Corps League, VFW and American Legion Men’s and Women’s Auxiliaries and Sons of the American Legion.

Here are reasons why it is most important. Most local cemeteries hold veterans from every war in U.S. History. This year’s goal is to place a remembrance wreath on every single veterans headstone.

Every December since 1992, thousands of wreaths donated by the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, are placed at the headstones of America’s honored dead at Arlington National Cemetery.

Morrill Worcester initially brought 4,000 surplus wreaths from the holiday decoration company he owns to adorn gravesites at Arlington 22 years ago. As Mr. Worcester told an Air Force reporter in 2005: “It is a great honor to be able to come here and pay our respects.”

In 2005, a captivating photo went viral, showing thousands of wreaths leaning against headstones, atop a light whisper of snow on the ground. That sparked the national Wreaths Across America effort.

But as word spread, the mission to Remember, Honor, and Teach about the sacrifices made by our veterans has captured the hearts and minds of many communities across the country like Owego and Tioga and Bradford Counties.

Wreaths Across America was formed in 2006 as a nonprofit organization in direct response to letters, requests and supporters about how they, too, could get involved and bring the Arlington Wreath Project experience to their local communities.

Owego began the practice of honoring her fallen heroes who served and sacrificed for our freedoms and expanded the program to all veterans in December 2007.

The December 2014 objective is a Christmas wreath on each veteran’s gravestone. A Gold Star Mother says, “You will never, ever forget the first wreath that you lay, it just touches your heart.”

Karen and Morrill Worcester, founders of Wreaths Across America, stated, “It is our vision that we will one day honor every veteran’s memory for the holidays, as a way to show our gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices made to preserve our freedoms.” 

To find out more about the importance of the Tioga and Bradford County Wreaths Across America Program, Purple Heart Recipients and Tioga County veterans at Arlington, contact Glenn A. Warner Post 1371, Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Day Chairman Jim Raftis by email to or call (607) 687-4229.

Veterans Day 2014

The Owego Veterans Memorial Committee says thank you to the Owego and Tioga County community for coming to the Tioga County Veterans Memorial and Tioga County Civil War Union Memorial to honor local veterans on Veterans Day 2014.

Reaction comments included: “I was grateful for the nice weather; I really liked the Civil War soldiers and the rifles being fired and the people dressed up in costume (period clothing); and historian Jerry Marsh was a big hit, everyone loves to hear from him.”

Other comments included: “I especially liked to hear from the old WWII Greatest Generation veterans and their experiences – there were no long winded speeches; everything moved along quickly; those Yankee guys should have fired their guns some more; what about two more sound speakers, one on the courthouse steps and other in middle of south lawn.”

Thanks, too, to the Newark Valley Historical Society for honoring Berkshire, Richford and Newark Valley veterans and Vietnam Veteran Jerry Marsh with the Veterans Award for his published book “The Brotherhood of Battle,” profiling Newark Valley soldiers in the Civil War. Three Purple Heart Recipients were identified.

Purple Heart Recipients 

Families are encouraged to identify their veterans who have received the distinguished Purple Heart Medal. This is the oldest military decoration created by General George Washington. This is a military award “sought by none but respected by all.” Information is needed for a Tioga County Purple Heart County application.

Arlington National Cemetery

Who are the veterans from Tioga County buried in Arlington National Cemetery? This year Arlington celebrates its 150th anniversary. Local veterans want to make sure their comrades there are honored back home for their service and sacrifice.