This year’s Wreaths Across America’s annual ‘Escort to Arlington’ parade made its only Pennsylvania stop at the Delaware County Veterans Memorial in Newtown Square on a rainy Thursday morning.
WAA’s annual pilgrimage from Harrington, Maine, to Arlington National Cemetery has become known as the world’s largest veterans’ parade. This ceremony, which was open to the public, included moving remarks from local veterans, musical performances, and the laying of wreaths.
“We are truly honored to welcome Wreaths Across America to the Delaware County Veterans Memorial and eternally grateful for all who served our great nation,” Ralph Galati, Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association Board Member, said.
Wreaths Across America also had their Mobile Education Exhibit on-site to educate local youth.
Participants for this year’s escort to Arlington included Gold Star families – including Sarah Whitehouse Taylor, the national president of American Gold Star Mothers Inc.
“It’s such a blessing to speak here today. We are surrounded by so many heroes who have displayed such great courage for our country,” Taylor said.
Blue Star Families, veterans, and volunteers represented many eras and local veteran service organizations such as the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, Disabled American Veterans, the VFW, and the VFW Auxiliary.
Members of the Patriots Riders, Patriot Guard Riders, and law enforcement from departments across many states along the route provided escorts to ensure safe transport for all participants throughout the week amidst the inclement weather.
The wreaths’ journey to Arlington has become a tradition, allowing locals to share their emotional and educational experiences as the WAA convoy passes through their hometowns. Last year marked the 30th anniversary that veterans’ wreaths were placed at Arlington National Cemetery, a tradition started by Maine wreath maker Morrill Worcester as a gift of thanks.
“For me, the Escort to Arlington is the culmination of another year of sharing the mission to remember, honor, and teach across this country. I say it every year, but it is truly an experience of a lifetime,” Karen Worcester, Executive Director of WAA, told The Patch. “The way the mission and these families and veterans are welcomed into communities, with flags waving and streets lined with children and grateful Americans, is something we always wished every person could witness.”
Not only were local veterans and other Delaware County residents in attendance for today’s event, but also local high schools. Sam Breckenridge, a U.S. History teacher at Ridley High School, brought his students to the event to give them appreciation for local veterans in Delaware County.
“It’s reflective of the contributions of a lot of people in our county have made towards independence and freedom,” Breckenridge said. “I wanted our students to recognize that there is a strong connection here in Delaware County, and this was a ceremony that we have never taken students here before. Despite the weather, I think they got a lot out of it.”
The Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association was first proposed in 2013 to recognize and pay tribute to fallen armed forces from Delaware County. This proposal came into reality on May 11, 2013, when the monument was dedicated to a solemn ceremony.