Marshfield responds in big way to ‘Wreaths Across America’ Day
BY MIKE WARREN
MARSHFIELD – Over 225 registered volunteers on Dec. 16 spent part of a damp, overcast Saturday morning laying more than 500 wreaths on the graves of Marshfield veterans at Hillside Cemetery.
For the first time, Marshfield was an official Wreaths Across America (WAA) location, joining more than 3,700 other locations across the country for National Wreaths Across America Day. Coordinated and led by local volunteers, groups, companies and individuals raised funds to sponsor the placement of 546 veterans’ wreaths on the headstones of fallen service members laid to rest here.
“The response that we’ve had, I think this is going to be something that continues,” said Tim Norlin, VP of Driver Employment at Roehl Transport and Wreaths Across America Location Coordinator for Marshfield Hillside Cemetery. “We’re going all in. And I was just in Washington, D.C. and I met with the ‘Wreaths’ people out there and I told them that we exceeded our goal, so Wreaths Across America said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do, Tim. For every wreath you get sponsored between December 16 and when we pick the wreaths up on January 16, we will match you one for one.’ So, if we can get 500 sponsors in 30 days, they’ll throw in another 500 wreaths,” Norlin said.
For $17 apiece, families, individuals, and companies can sponsor as many wreaths as they wish.
“It’s to cover the costs of harvesting, manufacturing, shipping,” Norlin told Hub City Times. “They have a number of corporate sponsors. They actually have fundraising opportunities for non-profits. For every wreath they sell they get five dollars.”
The wreaths come from Columbia Falls, Maine, 70 miles east of Bangor – one of the country’s eastern-most communities along the northeast Atlantic Coast.
“My wife and I had the opportunity to do Arlington last year and it was a pretty special event for us,” said Norlin. “I’m not a veteran, but my father served in World War II. Arlington’s a very special place, and we were so moved by that experience that I came back and told Rick Roehl what a wonderful event it was and said, ‘We need to get involved with this organization.’ So, we agreed to move some loads of wreaths. The folks at ‘Wreaths’ invited us out to visit with them. On our way back here we decided we needed to bring this to Marshfield.”
This annual event seeks to further the year-long mission to Remember, Honor, Teach, ensuring that the memory of those who served our country endures.
“It’s so important that we honor our veterans,” Norlin added. “They say they’re never forgotten until you don’t say their name, so we gotta say their name. As long as we do that they’re remembered.”
“It is an honor and privilege to stand before you and with all of you today to remember the men and women who dedicated their lives, and in some cases gave their lives, to protect our great nation,” said Tammy Neve, Air Force Veteran and Commander, American Legion Post 54, Marshfield, in comments during a public ceremony prior to the wreaths being laid. “As Americans, we often take for granted those things we’re able to choose freely. This is why it is so important to do what we are gathered here to do today. In keeping with the mission of the National Wreaths Across America, we are not here to honor the deaths of our veterans. That’s what we do on Memorial Day. Rather, we are here to remember their lives and their service, to honor those who are currently serving and to teach others about the sacrifices these men and women make and have made every day to protect our great nation,” Commander Neve added. “I encourage all of you to teach your children and grand children about the things that make America both good and great, to appreciate the price that is paid for the freedoms that we enjoy. When you join the military you write a blank check payable to the United States of America for the amount of up to, and including, your own life.”
The public ceremony also included the laying of honorary wreaths for each branch of the U.S. Military, one representing POW/MIA and another for Gold Star families.
The day’s events began with a police escort of American Legion officials and the tractor/trailer which carried the wreaths from Roehl Transport to Hillside Cemetery.
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. Wreaths Across America started as a simple gesture of thanks that has grown into a national, yearlong movement of dedicated volunteers and communities coming together to, not only remember the nation’s fallen and honor their service, but to teach the next generation about the value of freedom.
Those interested in volunteering for Wreaths Across America or sponsoring a wreath for Hillside Cemetery are invited to www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org/WIHSCM to learn more.