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Wreaths Across America visits Ephrata

| August 10, 2022 1:20 AM

EPHRATA - The Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit made a stop in Ephrata on Friday.

The exhibit is a trailer that features a short video, pictures and infographics about Wreaths Across America and volunteers there to talk with visitors.

“It’s the personal connection,” said Deborah Kellogg, Wreaths Across America Ambassador. “You can read things but when you come in here and you’re immersed in it, and we can talk to you about it, instead of just looking at a screen. We can carry on a human conversation.”

Deborah and her husband, DeLane Kellogg are ambassadors for WAA and said they love doing it.

Wreaths Across America is a program started in 1992 by Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath Company based in Harrington, Maine. That year, Worcester found his company with extra wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. He decided he would arrange for the surplus of wreaths to be laid at Arlington National Cemetery, according to the event’s website.

As Worcester worked to make it happen, other individuals and companies stepped up to help his endeavor. Volunteers were part of every step, from transportation from Maine to Virginia to put the wreaths on the tombstones. Worcester did this every year until 2005 when social media took hold and put a spotlight on what he was doing. From there, people all over the country wanted to help and bring this idea to their local cemeteries.

Wreaths Across America was officially born in 2007 when it gained its nonprofit status.

In 2021 over 2,450,000 wreaths were laid at 3,136 locations. 630 of those fresh wreaths were distributed on veterans’ graves between three northern Columbia Basin cemeteries in December 2021; 350 wreaths were placed in Ephrata, 140 in Soap Lake and 140 in Quincy.

Lt. Col. Kathy Maxwell of the Civil Air Patrol’s Columbia Basin Composite Squadron helps raise funds for the wreaths and the local CAP participates in the ceremonies each year. Wreaths Across America Day is the third Saturday in December.

The Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit travels all across the United States throughout the year before making its way back to the East Coast to escort the trucks full of wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery in December, DeLane said.

"The goal of the Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit is to bring the community together and teach patriotism while remembering the service and sacrifice of our nation's heroes," said Karen Worcester, Executive Director of WAA on their website. "However, we feel this exhibit has taken on even more meaning by providing something that is both educational and inspiring while supporting and giving back to the communities it visits."

As part of the exhibit, ambassadors recognize Vietnam veterans. They give the Vietnam veterans a coin, certificate and pin, they shake their hands and welcome them home.

“The veterans, especially the Vietnam veterans that were treated so bad when they came home, that personal connection, that genuine welcome home, really gets to them,” said Deborah.

There were 79 visitors to the Ephrata stop, Deborah said.

To get involved with WAA locally, rather that be sponsoring a wreath or wanting to help lay them on WAA Day, contact Lt. Col. Kathy Maxwell at 360-951-6719.

Maxwell said they start their fundraising for the wreaths around the end of September. Wreaths are $15 each and $5 of that goes back to the local CAP.

For the full list of dates and locations of the WAA Mobile Education Exhibit visit: https://bit.ly/WAAINFO.

Rebecca Pettingill may be reached at rpettingill@columbiabasinherald.com. Read more of her work on the Columbia Basin Herald app, available on Apple and Android devices.

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REBECCA PETTINGILL/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Lt. Col. Kathy Maxwell of the Civil Air Patrol’s Columbia Basin Composite Squadron helps raise funds for the wreaths and the local CAP participates in the ceremonies each year. Featured is Maxwell in black along with local cadets and Maj. Jerome Bonneville, Squadron commander.

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REBECCA PETTINGILL/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

DeLane Kellogg gives Ephrata resident and Vietnam veteran David Dungan a Wreaths Across America coin that is specifically for Vietnam veterans.

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REBECCA PETTINGILL/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Through Wreaths of America, 630 fresh wreaths were distributed on veterans’ graves between three northern Columbia Basin cemeteries in December 2021; 350 wreaths were placed in Ephrata, 140 in Soap Lake and 140 in Quincy

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REBECCA PETTINGILL/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Combat Motorcycle Veterans who stopped by the mobile exhibit pose with Civil Air Patrol cadets in front of the trailer.

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REBECCA PETTINGILL/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

DeLane and Deborah Kellogg were the Wreaths Across America Ambassadors for the Ephrata stop.

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REBECCA PETTINGILL/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

The coin given out by Wreaths Across America that is specifically for Vietnam veterans. Coins are a long-standing military tradition that honors those who have served in ways above and beyond the call of duty.

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