Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit A Great Patriotic Finale To Mini Autumn Leaf Feastival (Posted 10/06/20)

The Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit made a stop at the Clarion Mall this past Sunday (October 4th), afternoon. The exhibit, which was free and open to the public, was the finale to the Mini Autumn Leaf Festival (mALF), is a prelude to Wreaths Across America Day, which will be held on Saturday, December 19th, where volunteers gather to lay wreaths on the graves of our nation’s military veterans.

The Clarion Area Football Team used this as their off-season charity outreach last year and the new Central Clarion Wildcats are carrying on this year. The Immaculate Conception School also sponsors the local effort. Other area youth organizations involved Wreaths Across America include the First United Methodist youth group and the Civil Air Patrol.

Clarion County Wreaths Across America coordinator Noreen Shirey shared the following about the Mobile Education Exhibit, some background on Wreaths Across America and the local wreath laying ceremonies, on Saturday, December 19th and how you can participate or donate wreaths.

Clarion County Wreaths Across America Coordinator Noreen Shirey (seated) with Clarion County DAR regent Joan Kriebel

I invited Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit to visit Clarion last year, but the waiting list is long as they travel nationally all year long.

When I finally got the notice that the visit was approved I was very happy.  The saying, “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me I understand.,”  rings true for me about this Wreaths Across America mission. This exhibit was an opportunity to show our community why I feel this mission is important. 

The mobile unit transport vehicle

Due to Covid, there are concerns, but the exhibit was and able to adjust and continue their mission, which is simple: Remember the fallen, Honor those that serve, and Teach the next generation about the sacrifice our veterans have made for our country. 

They also want to tell stories of patriotism and the love we have for our country and they share those stories as they travel around the United States.

Jennifer and Steve were our guides. They were eager to teach and listen as local veterans who do not want glory or praise, shared struggles, losses and victories. Veterans only feel they did their duty.

Wreaths Across America guides Jennifer and Steve with Clarion County WAA Coordinator Noreen Shirey

Wreaths Across America strives to be a catalyst to bring our military and civilians together. 

The Exhibit has a 24 seat movie theater, two exterior TV’s that help to explain the humble beginnings of a wreath maker in Maine who donated 5,000 wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery where 700,000 veterans are buried, to what is now a worldwide nonprofit organization placing 2.2 million wreaths.

Wreaths Across America has one goal, regardless if you sponsor one wreath or sponsor a remembrance tree, and that is to honor our veterans and their families, not just on one Saturday a year, but every day.  It is an opportunity to keep our veterans memories alive all year long, so they are never forgotten. 

A touching display

Wreaths Across America has an annual convoy from Maine to Arlington, that stops at schools to introduce kids to this mission. Volunteer truck drivers spread out for all parts of the United States to deliver wreaths and are welcomed by communities as though they are the veterans finally coming home. 

Last year Clarion did an amazing job welcoming Chuck, our wreath driver, to our hometown. He was pretty amazed that for our first ceremony that we had a wreath for every veteran.  He will be our driver again this year, and his dog Lucy will ride along with him, once again. Chuck is excited that we have multiple new locations in our county.

Chuck Andrews and Noreen Shirey with Lucy on arrival day 2019

Knox Area cemeteries and Rimersburg Cemetery, which is the largest veterans’ cemetery in Clarion County are also joining this mission. My co-chairman Bonnie Aaron helped me greet people, along with DAR regent Joan Kriebel and Coni Kifer. 

The last day to sponsor a wreath is November 30th.  Chuck will be making his annual drive sometime during the week of December 7th to deliver Clarion’s wreaths.   

Questions please contact Noreen Shirey 814-229-6317

A view of some of the displays in the exhibit

Thanks to everyone who came out to welcome Wreaths Across America’s mobile Education exhibit and to Jennifer and Stephan for their knowledge and enthusiasm.

Special thanks to Bonnie Aaron, my trusted sidekick. Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) regent Joan Kriebel, Tina Kennedy Flick, coordinator for the Rimesburg Cemetery and Romayne McGinnis, coordinator for the Knox Cemeteries.

Also thanks to Dawn R Miller for representing Clarion Civil Air Patrol and Shelly L. Rhoades with First United Methodist Church youth group, and Luann Seniow Walters and Lisa Craig for their support, as well as area media for their coverage.

In attendance last year, at Clarion and IC Ceremony was Romayne McGinnis mother of Medal of Honor recipient Ross McGinnis, who gave his life in Iraq. Mrs. McGinnis coordinates Knox Area Cemeteries

(Some of the cemeteries this year in Clarion County where Wreaths will be placed this year, are Immaculate Conception, Clarion, Rimersburg, Knox Union Cemetery, Knox’s Salem Lutheran Cemetery, and Knox’s St. Paul’s Union Cemetery. 

Please consider contributing to this great cause, by donating wreaths and participate in laying wreaths.)

Thank you to Noreen and all those involved across the nation in this wonderful cause!!!!

More images from 2019:

Some of those gathered for Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Clarion and IC Cemetaries, in 2019
Some of the many volunteers laying wreaths last year
I-C Student Council with Driver Chuck Andrews and Reverend Monte Sayers in 2019