BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — McLean County residents received a lesson in ways to honor veterans Saturday morning.
Wreaths Across America‘s mobile education exhibit made a stop at the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery offering free tours to the public.
The nonprofit honors and remembers veterans every December by placing a veteran’s remembrance wreath on their headstones and thanking them for their services.
Stefan Brann, driver and ambassador for Wreaths Across America, said the nonprofit’s movement started in 1992 when founder Morrill Worcester, who owned a wreath company, presented the idea to senator Olympia Snowe. He said they’ve expanded to thousands of cemeteries over the past few decades.
“We started with one cemetery in Maine in 1992 and laid 5,000 wreaths,” Brann said. “Last year in 2019, we had 2,150 locations in the United States and we did two overseas.”
During the mobile tour, people got a chance to get a history lesson of the nonprofit and watch a video from gold star mothers saying what the wreaths mean to them.
Brann said during the nonprofit’s community outreach tour, he’s encouraging people to volunteer every December. He said it’s an unforgettable experience.
“It’s a very moving, humbling experience when you lay that wreath and you say that vet’s name,” Brann said. “You know they’re not a forgotten vet, they live on. If we stop saying their name, they’re going to be a forgotten person, we don’t want that for our vets. They gave their lives for our country. They deserve that, not to be forgotten.”
He said he hopes those who took the tour walk away with a new appreciation for the nonprofit and come out and join them on December 19.