More than 2.4 million sponsored veterans’ wreaths were placed by volunteers at 3,136 locations across the country Dec. 18. Among those volunteering with Wreaths Across America were members of our own community, including Millington residents Jon Fellows and Shelly Holland.

Fellows, who heads up the Shore Kaos youth lacrosse program, and a number of the Kaos families placed wreaths at the Eastern Shore Veterans Cemetery in Hurlock, Chesterfield Cemetery in Centreville and Arlington National Cemetery.

“It’s a way for us as coaches, parents, civilians to teach our children that our freedom isn’t free and that there is a tremendous amount of sacrifice made in order to maintain and protect our freedom,” said Fellow, whose Kaos program participated for the second year in a row.

“It’s a special day for me, as my dad has been the keynote speaker several times at the Capitol building in (Washington) D.C. when they lay the wreath on the Capitol. I know how much it means to him, which makes it even more special to me,” he added.

Holland has been volunteering with Wreaths Across America since 2016, starting out with her sister.

She has been to Arlington.

This year she was in Crownsville to honor her father, who served with the Air Force in Vietnam. Holland brought along her young grandson.

At ceremonies across the country, our nation’s heroes were remembered. As each wreath was placed, the service member’s name was said out loud, ensuring their memory lives on.

More than 525 truckloads of wreaths were delivered, representing 390 different carriers. More than 2 million volunteers, a third of whom were children, helped place wreaths on headstones of our veterans.

At Arlington National Cemetery, 66 tractor-trailers delivered more than 250,000 veterans’ wreaths that were placed by nearly 38,000 volunteers.

This was the 30th year that veterans’ wreaths have been placed there, a tradition started by Maine wreath-maker Morrill Worcester as a gift of thanks.

“When I brought down those 5,000 wreaths that first year, I just thought it was a way for me to say thank you, for what we have in this country,” said Worcester. “I could have never imagined it would strike a chord like it has and make such an impact. Me and my family continue to be humbled by the support this program receives across the country.”

Organizers of the Wreaths Across America program thank the communities, dedicated volunteers, generous sponsors, essential truck drivers, local officials and others for coming together in unity and support for those who have protected our freedom. Each has played an important role in the mission to remember the fallen, honor those that serve and their families, and teach the next generation the value of freedom.

Each live, balsam wreath is a gift of respect and appreciation, sponsored by an individual or organization and placed on a headstone by volunteers as a small gesture of gratitude for the freedoms Americans enjoy.

For centuries, fresh evergreens have been used as a symbol of honor and have served as a living tribute renewed annually.

Wreaths Across America believes the tradition represents a living memorial that honors veterans, active-duty military and their families, according to a news release.

Mark your calendar: next year’s National Wreaths Across America Day will be held on Saturday, Dec. 17.

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