COLUMBIA FALLS, Maine — Wreaths Across America will visit Kent Island Thursday, Dec. 17, as a miles-long parade of tractor trailers, wrapped vehicles carrying veterans and Gold Star Families, law enforcement and motorcycle riders lead the escort of wreaths to Arlington for placement.

Wreaths Across America is a national non-profit whose mission to remember, honor and teach is in part carried out with the placement of sponsored veterans’ wreaths each December at 2,500 participating locations across America, most notably at Arlington National Cemetery.

This year’s annual escort of wreaths will have a different look and feel due to the necessary changes being made throughout the country for health and safety.

The physical journey – which will include one tractor trailer load of wreaths hauled by Gully Transportation professional driver J.D. Walker, who is also a Gold Star Father and NAVY Veteran, 11 wrapped Chevy vehicles carrying Gold Star Families, and nine police cruisers – will take place from Tuesday, Dec. 15, through National Wreaths Across America Day, Saturday, Dec. 19.

The planned arrival of the escort on Kent Island is 6 p.m. at American Legion Post 278, 800 Romancoke Road, Stevensville.

“For those who have had the opportunity to participate in the escort of wreaths over the years, it is truly an experience of a lifetime,” said WAA Executive Director Karen Worcester.

“The way we have been welcomed into communities, over the years, with flags waving and streets lined with children and veterans, is something we always wished every American could witness," Worcester said. "And now, thanks to PenFed’s support, we’ll be able to offer this incredible journey to all those who wish to participate. We are both grateful and excited to safely share the mission with all who want to participate.”

In partnership with PenFed Credit Union’s digital media content team, PenFed Digital, this year’s escort will also be shared virtually for the nation to join along from the safety of their own homes. PenFed Digital and WAA are overcoming pandemic-related challenges to ensure fallen heroes are honored safely.

During the escort and leading up to its departure, viewers can follow along, learning about the mission and hearing stories from the people it impacts on Wreaths Across America’s Facebook and PenFed’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn pages. 

“We are proud to partner with Wreaths Across America to tell the stories of our nation’s veterans – the men and women who served to protect our freedoms,” said James Schenck, CEO of PenFed Credit Union and PenFed Foundation. “It’s even more important that we continue to support the military community and give back during these uncertain times. This year is going to be especially memorable with both in-person events and the sharing of many incredible stories via social media with those at home. Everyone needs patriotism this holiday season and PenFed is proud to support Wreaths Across America’s mission to remember, honor and teach.”

The WAA is asking Americans to wave flags, and share signs and cheers of encouragement, as it travels through each community from Maine to Virginia.

Visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org for more information about stops of the entire escort (which includes stops in northern Delaware), to find a cemetery near you to support or to learn how local events are being modified for safety in your community, or to sponsor a wreath for $15. Each sponsorship goes toward a fresh balsam veteran’s wreath that will be placed on the headstone of an American hero as WAA endeavors to honor all veterans laid to rest, as part of National Wreaths Across America Day on Saturday, Dec. 19. You can text WREATH to 20222 to sponsor a wreath for Arlington National Cemetery right from your phone.

Follow me on Twitter @connie_stardem.

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