To celebrate National Wreaths Across America Day on December 15, members of the Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) chapter of DECA had the opportunity to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony to honor veterans buried in Saint Matthew Cemetery in Conshohocken.
"My favorite part was the laying of the wreaths, because you got to physically see the graves and just feel blessed to be in the presence of such bravery and that you contributed to their posthumous honor," said Courtney Patterson, PWHS DECA Chapter President.
The project came to PWHS through the DECA Chapter Historian, Jackie Arcaro, who became familiar with Wreaths Across America through her after-school job at the MISSION BBQ restaurant on Germantown Pike. Wreaths Across America has a three-part mission: remember fallen United States veterans, honor those who serve and teach children the value of freedom.
DECA is a club where students work on developing their skills in marketing, finance, hospitality and management, so Wreaths Across America became a fall focus for the club. Jackie and Courtney used their marketing background to create a promotional campaign for the drive, and the group collected donations at lunches during the week after Veterans Day and continued to solicit sponsors for the wreaths through the first week in December.
"Jackie really got the ball rolling, but what really motivated me to get involved was that I am lucky to have two surviving veterans in my family: my grandfather who served in the Korean War and my brother who was in the Air National Guard," said Courtney. "I'm lucky to have them here today, but if I did not, I would want them to be respected, honored and appreciated by others, which is what Wreaths Across America ensures for fallen soldiers."
Wreaths Across America began in 1992, when Morrill Worcester, owner of a wreath company in Maine, had a surplus of wreaths near the end of the season leading up to the winter holidays. He decided to honor American veterans by sending the wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The project gained national attention after a photo of markers adorned with the wreaths went viral in 2005. Today, Wreaths Across America involves more than 1,400 additional sites in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.