Saturday, December 17 is a somber but special day at 3,400 locations throughout the U.S. when the lives of fallen veterans are celebrated. It is Wreaths Across America Day. The most prominent location is Arlington National Cemetery, but Rehoboth Beach Main Street and the Rehoboth Beach Homeowners’ Association are partnering to co-host their second annual Wreaths Across America ceremony at 12 p.m. in the Epworth Cemetery on Henlopen Avenue.
Rehoboth in Bloom founder Cindy Lovett was instrumental in launching the event last year and is spearheading this year’s effort. She and other local organizers are asking members of the public to attend and help lay wreaths at the grave sites of the more than 150 veterans interred at Epworth. Donations from local merchants, community groups and individuals cover the cost of the wreaths.
Lovett says that she was in Harrington, DE last year when she saw a flyer about the national effort. After a meeting with the national Wreaths Across America director, Lovett and other local residents Lisa Schlosser and Steve Curson, both veterans, helped put together the collaboration between Main Street and the Rehoboth Homeowners Association. The Rehoboth Veterans of Foreign Wars also is involved. Lovett is on the board of Main Street and the chair of its Design Committee. Rehoboth in Bloom is a Main Street project.
Lovett feels that honoring those who have served is very important, a sentiment that is at the heart of Wreaths Across America. Its mission – to Remember, Honor and Teach – is the theme for locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad. The Rehoboth location is a perfect example.
During the program, which will feature remembrances by various local and state-wide officials, a single representative for each service branch – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and U.S. Merchant Marine – will present his or her branch’s ceremonial wreath.
When the formal ceremony is completed, members of the public attending are asked to place the donated wreaths on the graves of veterans buried at Epworth. They also are asked to take a step back and silently thank the veteran for his or her service. The graves are marked by small American flags. “It’s very moving to watch”, says Lovett. She estimates that, last year, about 100 people attended, and the organizing group is hoping that more will do so on December 17.
Community Bank is hosting a lunch following the ceremony for all who attend it. Details will be provided at the event.
Lovett and her organizing group are seeking volunteers to help with the project. She can be reached at 302-521- 4190.
As part of its mission “to teach”” the national Wreaths Across America’s works with thousands of schools and scout troops, as well as civic and religious groups across the country. The organization acknowledges the importance of Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day.
“In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and to show our veterans and their families that we will not forget. We will never forget”.
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.