WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA 2009
Narrative of Trip
How do you describe a trip of a lifetime? It's like that postcard you
send with only, "Wish you were here." And those are my thoughts to
describe the trek from Maine to Arlington with
Wreaths Across America.
We (Barb and Jack Benard, Mary Byers, Peggy Morrison and yours truly
Ruth Stonesifer) started our journey in 8 inches of snow tying on bows
with the other volunteers at the
Company in Harrington, Maine. It wasn't long
before our hands were covered in pitch from the pine but it did not
matter, since we could then shake hands with all the veterans also
helping and have a (sticky) but lasting embrace.
There were three trailers heading to Arlington (up one from last year)
and over 30 trailers going all over the country to deliver the tribute
to our veterans. The mission is Honor, Remember and Teach and that was
our mission as we climbed aboard the motor home dubbed "Gold Star One"
driven by Ehrin and Jay and their white fluffy dog named JOJO; three
cheerful volunteers to escort the moms to Arlington.
I, of course, wanted to ride in an eighteen wheeler and luckily for me
Bob Parsons ("Wreath Two") remembered taking me into Arlington last year
and agreed to have me along for the ride. When they closed the back
doors of "Wreath One" there was a huge decal with the AGSM logo. What a thrill
that was to follow "Wreath One" to all the schools and town squares
filled with children waving flags and cheering us on to Arlington. I
hope the pictures speak volumes because all of us got misty eyed at the
sight of kids and flags.
I will never forget the image I had looking in the side mirrors at one
very hilly spot in Maine and seeing all the tractor trailers coming down
the hill after us. What a thrill to know they were all filled with
wreaths to honor those who have served our country.
We got snowed in one morning in Hartford CT but it was a great time to
converse and make new friends with the Patriot Guard volunteers whose
colorful stories of past treks made us laugh and cry at the same time.
There were some other interesting times this year when the brakes failed
on the motor home on Interstate 95 and we rolled into a dealership to
have them repaired. Another thrill was getting lost from our escort and
having to rely on my new phone with the Navigation to get
us to the
Pentagon ceremony, arriving even before the escort and the Worcesters. I
think they might take me on as a Native America Scout next year, maybe a
pinto pony and me in white leather chaps out in front of the convoy would
be a nice touch. On second thought the rig will do just fine.
After an exhausting day (Dec 12th) walking every square inch of
Arlington, (it just seemed like that the next morning with aching legs
and feet) AGSM hosted a dinner for all the volunteers who could make it up
to Headquarters. After cookies and cake, Cory, Morrill and Karen Worcester's son, asked everyone,
"what are we grateful for?" The answers
were as interesting as they were varied. When it came time for me, I had to
say my thanks were for the sense of family we all felt. I was truly
grateful for the friendships that developed over the days and miles and
belonging to a cause that is bigger than all of us; honoring and
remembering the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces. That
was the real gift.
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