Mt. Airy squadron joins thousands during Wreaths Across America ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery
2/4/2018 — ARLINGTON, Va. — Mt. Airy Composite Squadron partnered with Maryland Wing members, other Civil Air Patrol representatives, and community volunteers during the Wreaths Across America annual event held at Arlington National Cemetery on December 15, 2017, to lay wreaths of remembrance on the tombs of our nation’s veterans.
Occurring yearly in December, National Wreaths Across America Day brings together volunteers around the nation with a mission to remember, honor and teach at coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and at over 1,400 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad. CAP, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, has been an avid supporter of Wreaths Across America and its mission since the program’s inception in 1992.
CAP is committed to encourage and train its members to provide community services that included honor and color guards for ceremonies, logistic distribution, radio communications, sponsorship and aerospace education. Mt Airy squadron worked to raise wreath sponsorships for the ANC event during the 2017. In preparation for the event, Cadet Maj. Daniel Flanick discussed the value of freedom and trained Mt. Airy seniors, cadets and community volunteers in the customs and courtesies to be observed when laying wreaths; remembering the fallen and honoring those who served.
On the National WAA Day, Mt. Airy cadets provided an honor guard and joined with over 75,000 other volunteers in placing wreaths upon ANC gravesites of the men and women who have served America. This year’s large crowd at ANC placed more than 245,000 wreaths at gravesites of U.S. service members. It was an awe inspiring day as participating volunteers stopped to observe and photograph the many solemn deeds. Throughout the day, many participants and attendees were heard to comment “I like the show of respect.”
Mt. Airy squadron members returned to Arlington National Cemetery on January 20, 2018, to assist in the cleanup day, commonly known as ‘Wreaths Out.’ The day’s mild temperature and clear skies brought volunteers out in droves. By 8:45 a.m., the cemetery headstones were clear of wreaths, the dumpsters full and the cleanup complete.
“This is a day where the wreaths so solemnly placed on the headstones of our nation’s fallen service members and their families are respectfully removed by volunteers,” said Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, Katharine Kelley.
Taking into account the well-known historical sites in ANC, cadets and seniors took advantage of the opportunity to also view the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns and visit the Arlington House, John F. Kennedy’s eternal flame and the Women in Military Service for America memorial. Witnessing the time-honored ceremonies, discovering the rich history and reflecting on the many sacrifices made by our military men and women, the Mt Airy members achieved the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.
CAP continues to support the Wreaths Across America annual program. WAA has scheduled December 15, 2018, as this year’s ceremonial day of remembrance. To learn more about this program, visit the WAA website at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/ Several organizations including many CAP units have established specific links to provide opportunities to local communities and the public to donate wreaths through CAP unit pages. To donate through the Mt. Airy Composite Squadron, visit: https://goo.gl/Exr1bz. It is never too early to begin the effort to remember and honor those who have served our nation.
Mount Airy is a Civil Air Patrol squadron consisting of both senior and youth programs with members drawn from Carroll, Frederick, Howard and Montgomery counties. The squadron meets Thursday nights, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., at Mt. Airy Veterans of Foreign War, Post 10076, 107 S. Main, Mt. Airy, Maryland. Have a passion for aviation, dream of flight, are considering a career in the military? Want to serve your community and enhance your leadership skills? Join us. Youths, ages 12 to 18, parents and adults interested in the cadet or senior program are always welcome to drop in. For more information, contact Capt. Laura Smith-Velazquez at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Mt. Airy squadron on Facebook.
Nearly 1,500 CAP members serve in Maryland. Last year wing members flew 13 search and rescue missions. The wing was credited with four finds. Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland. Members flew 2,245 hours in all mission categories. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For more information, contact the Maryland Wing at mdwg.cap.gov or follow the wing on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarylandWingCivilAirPatrol.
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 78 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 56,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its members additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. Performing missions for America for the past 75 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com for more information.
By 1st Lt. Mary Alvarado, CAP
Public Affairs Officer, Mt. Airy Composite Squadron
Assisting in placing wreaths on gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery were (L-R) C/1st Lt. Raegan Buzzard, C/A1C Jackson Varley, Capt. Laura Smith-Velazquez, C/A1C Katherine Grasley, C/Amn Lauren Varley, C/MSgt Aurora Albertson and C/Maj. Daniel Flanick. (Photo credit: 1st Lt. Mary Alvarado, CAP)