Perdue drivers will lead Wreaths Across America Dec. 1 event

 

Again this year, Perdue Farms is participating in Wreaths Across America, the annual wreath-laying ceremony at veterans’ cemeteries nationwide.

Started in 1992 by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester, the program’s mission is to remember, honor and teach. Every December, wreaths are picked up in Maine, transported and laid on graves throughout the country, with Perdue drivers taking them to sites on the East Coast.

Since 2007, Perdue drivers have delivered more than 150,000 wreaths. This year, they will be responsible for more than 25,000 green wreaths, each tied with a red bow, to cemeteries from New York to Florida, as part of National Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 16.

Locally, there will be a ceremony 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14, at the Wicomico War Veterans Memorial, in front of the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center. The public is welcome to attend, meet the convoy traveling from Maine to Salisbury and observe as seven wreaths are placed at the War Memorial by Perdue drivers, all who are U.S. veterans.

The convoy is expected to arrive at the Civic Center parking lot by 2:45 p.m.

Built in 2002, entirely with donations from the community, the Wicomico War Veterans Memorial honors those with a home of record in Wicomico who lost their lives while defending the nation.

The names of 191 men from World War I to present day are displayed on bronze plaques on a brick wall with the words “Here we mark the price of freedom.”

Flags from each branch of the military, the POW-MIA flag, county, state, and U.S. flags are flown day and night.

“When you think of the thousands of people who are serving in the military all around the world and the sacrifices that they and their families are making at this time of the year, the ability for us to help share and show respect for that sacrifice is really important, especially for those who made the ultimate sacrifice and are memorialized at Wicomico War Veterans Memorial, is really important,” said Jim Perdue, chairman of Perdue Farms.

Wreaths Across America’s stop in Salisbury is one of approximately 12 visits to schools, veterans’ homes, monuments and communities along the East Coast that the convoy will make during its weeklong journey from Harrington, Maine, to Arlington, Va.

Among Perdue drivers who will deliver wreaths again this year is Keith Clark, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served from 1980 to 1986 and who has been involved with Wreaths Across American for six years.

“They have almost 1,300 cemeteries around the United States that are going to get wreaths. Just Perdue alone is going to deliver 25,000 wreaths,” Clark said.

The first year he was asked to deliver, he drove to Maine, picked up wreaths and delivered them to five cemeteries and a few individuals in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area.

“I went to the Catonsville Cemetery. There are Civil War veterans there. The year after that, my supervisor came to me and said. ‘Keith, do you want to do some wreaths for me again this year?’ and I said, ‘Absolutely.’  When I spend the week with Wreaths Across America, with the Gold Star Families and the Blue Star Families, you really get it then because it’s about the families.

“I saw Gold Star moms that were younger than me. I’m 56 now. Someone my age could easily have someone who is 18, 19, 20, who loses their lives in Iraq or somewhere,” Clark said.

“It’s a powerful thing when a community reaches out to those communities.”

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

As your community newspaper, we are committed to making Salisbury a better place. You can help support our mission by making a voluntary contribution to the newspaper.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.