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SOURCE Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America to host a day-long celebration for veterans and their families; American country music artist Lee Greenwood to perform
COLUMBIA FALLS, Maine, Sept. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Earlier this month, Wreaths Across America was informed by the city council in Bar Harbor, Maine, that the lease on the perpetually lit tree that pays tribute to all veterans whose service keeps them from their families during the holiday, would no longer be renewed. The reasons given by the council were that the "Christmas They Never Had" tree could be considered offensive to some.
Wreaths Across America pursued the project in 2011 at the urging of Battle of the Bulge/POW survivor Sir Stanley Wojtusik. Sir Stanley's story of being captured on Christmas Eve, 1944, punctuated the sacrifices made by our service men and women and their families. These sacrifices seem especially painful during the holiday season when families usually spend time together. Historically, 1944 is known as "The Christmas They Never Had" because of the extraordinary number of young men and women from all over the world who served and died in World War II.
The monument that rests beneath the tree reads, "The Christmas They Never Had. Wreaths Across America dedicates this perpetually lit tree in honor of those men and women who in service to our Country, were separated from loved ones during the holiday season. Regardless of religious beliefs or creed their sacrifice must always be remembered. July 9, 2011." It was the hope of Wreaths Across America that families who were drawn to the tree by the colored lights would read the plaque and take the opportunity to teach their children about the sacrifices of war and the cost of freedom.
As Wreaths Across America Executive Director Karen Worcester explained, "The tree represents a period of time that is part of our history - and no amount of political correctness will ever erase the sacrifices that were made, and continue to be made, to protect our freedoms."
Although Wreaths Across America was initially disappointed to lose the teaching opportunity in such a visible location, the group sees the decision as an opportunity to bring more attention to the sacrifices of our nation's military and their families. Plans have been made to move the lights to Columbia Falls,
Maine, where a parcel of land has been gifted to Wreaths Across America for a future veterans' park. Enthusiasm has grown and Sunday, Oct. 13,, 2013 will be another opportunity for the community to honor the sacrifice of these men, women and their families and celebrate the gift of freedom we all have been given.
Below is the agenda for the October 13th events (schedule is subject to change).
8 a.m. Gather at the perpetually lit tree in Agamont Park, Bar Harbor.
8:30 a.m. Removal ceremony and transfer lights (still lit) to Columbia Falls. Patriot Guard Riders will escort the lights to Columbia Falls, Maine. Sir Stanley Wojtusik, WWII veteran and POW survivor, will be in attendance.
10 a.m. Families of the fallen from Maine will gather at Wreaths Across America Museum for coffee and instruction on tagging their loved ones trees. More information on this dog tag program can be found here: http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/tag/jeremy-moorhead/
11:00 a.m. Tree tagging and monument reveal (life size carving, done by chainsaw, of Founder's Award).
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Lunch open the public at the Wreaths Across America Museum. Hosted by Methodist Church Women, $8 for adults and $5 for kids.
2:30 p.m. Concert in Balsam Valley Amphitheatre (located off of Rte. 1 in Columbia Falls). Gates open at 1 p.m., food and beverage vendors on site, with variety local talent and featuring Lee Greenwood.
Dusk: Lee Greenwood will sing "God Bless the USA" as the lights are adorned to the new tree in Columbia Falls. This will be followed by a fireworks display.
About Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman, Morrill Worcester, in 1992. The organization's mission, Remember, Honor, Teach, is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as hundreds of veterans' cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. For more information, to donate or to sign up to volunteer, please visit www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org.
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