This morning I had planned to be someplace else except behind this keyboard.  It had been on my calendar the last two months that I would be in Arlington Cemetery helping the Maine State Society of Washington D.C. place wreaths on the graves of the heroes buried there.  Living less than 2 hours above D.C. if seemed logical to join this group.  Plus one of the officers is a dear friend of ours.

As I have often written about ebb and flow and highs and lows it did not work out as I had hoped.  I changed my plans.  Perhaps I can attend the clean up that will take place on January 26th.

If you are unaware of this project go look it up. Read the story of Morrill Worcester who began the project in 1992.  I am including much of it in this post. Go to the site http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/ to see the pictures.  It seemed to me important enough to simply copy it and paste it here.  My words are no better than the author of the site:


The Arlington Story

Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, was a 12 year old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to WashingtonD.C. His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and ArlingtonNationalCemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career in business, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their Country.

In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s Veterans. With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery, a section which had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.

As plans were underway, a number of other individuals and organizations stepped up to help. James Prout, owner of local trucking company Blue Bird Ranch, Inc., generously provided transportation all the way to Virginia. Volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW Posts gathered with members of the community to decorate each wreath with traditional red, hand-tied bows. Members of the MaineState Society of Washington, D.C. helped to organize the wreath-laying, which included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.Arlington National Cemetery

This project went on the same way by Mr. Worcester donating each year until 2005 when a picture of the wreaths on the stones in the snow appeared on the internet.  Requests poured in to Mr. Worcester.  In 2006 Mr. Worcester sent 7 wreaths representing each branch of the military and the POW/MIAs.  The Civil Air Patrol and other civic organizations helped place wreaths in 150 wreath laying ceremonies in 2006.  In 2007 ‘Wreaths Across America’ was begun as  501 3c non-profit organization.  Their mission is simple, ‘Remember. Honor. Teach.’

On December 9th the wreaths left Harrington, Maine bound for Arlington.  The Patriot Guard Riders have been escorting these tracker trailer trucks since 2006 in what has become known as the world’s largest veteran’s parade.  It arrived in Arlington this morning after several educational stops along the way.  In 2010 220,000 wreaths were laid in 545 locations.  In 2008 Congress unanimously voted December 13 to be “Wreaths Across America’ Day.  Go read more about it.  It is quite uplifting.

We need something uplifting today this day after the horror of Newtown, CT.  The news has been totally taken over by this tragedy of the 26 that were killed there.  Having young children slaughtered in a classroom is unheard of in this country.  These children were babies.  As our President said yesterday they had their lives ahead of them.  The most poignant thing I read yesterday was from my young cousin Lindsey, I think she is 11/12yrs. old.   On her facebook page she posted these words:

18 children dead? 18 futures, 18 personalities, 18 possible world changers, 18 children that aren’t making it home today.

My Prayers Go Out To All Of The Families In Newton, Connecticut.

I can add nothing except to suggest we keep all these people in our prayers.

The drums are already beating about gun control.  It is too soon and will not change a thing.  Here are a few facts – please check them out for yourself.

1]  Connecticut has the third strongest gun control laws in the country

2]  WashingtonD.C. has THE strongest gun laws with no guns allowed in the city.  This last year has seen a 40% increase in crime and twice as much of that is gun related.

3]  The bombing in Oklahoma City killed more people in a single action.

What happened yesterday was an act of evil.  I am predicting we will not ever really know or understand why this happened despite all the talk and conjecture.  I have heard that we need gun control.  Lack of faith has been blamed.  Video games and the culture of death we have in this country has come under discussion.  The shooter seemingly has been identified with an illness where he could feel no pain.  He also has been identified as a master gamer.  What he did was evil pure and simple.  No explanation will change this.

I was on a facebook thread yesterday with adult nieces and a nephew who believed very much in gun control.  Despite what I said it was their contention that gun control was the answer.  How else could so many be killed in a single action unless they had guns and gun control would stop it.  When it was pointed out that Oklahoma City bombing did the same the reaction was that  a bombing was rare.  Well so were mass murders with guns years ago.  Bombings though are not rare in London or other places.  I think 9/11 in NYC was evil as well.  An act without guns that killed many.

I was asked the following: ”Until we can agree on the problem it is hard to come up with the solution. Again I ask, you say guns aren’t a factor, so why are they always the weapon used in these horrible occurrence”.  My answer was simply that we did indeed need to talk to find a solution.  I asked did we have to agree or simply come to their way of thinking?  This was not perceived as an answer.  For me it was.  Until there can be meaningful discussion on the fullness of the situation nothing will be accomplished.

In order to understand the tragedy of yesterday I believe we have to examine our whole society.  It is not ONE thing and the one thing in gun control will not change it.  We have to look at how we are living.  Using a tired old axiom, in my day, kids used guns to hunt and there was even that occasional gun during hunting season in the rack of a truck in the school parking lot.  There was also respect for that weapon and the damage it can do.  The question can be asked here if the callousness with which people are killed in movies and in video games has any impact on the kids who watch and play them.  I used to watch the occasional violent movie and can no longer due to the graphic nature of the seemingly gratuitous violence.

We need as a society to look at the lack of faith we are experiencing in our world.  I believe fewer and fewer people go to church or have any form of religious education.  I can hear it now – ‘gun toting Bible thumper’.  No it is the morals that lay in most faiths that are important.  It is the respect for each other, our families and our world that is being lost with lack of any kind of religious education.

Our schools are teaching children that there are few consequences.  When I was a new school parent I remember a class of children where many had to stay back.  This was back in 1976/77.  This just could not happen we were told.  These children would be damaged.  Contrary to what the parents were saying, the school board went ahead and created a transitional grade to help these children achieve what they had not the previous year.  While I did not agree with this at the time or understand it, I can now see it as the beginning of the decline of consequences.  We do not let anyone fail anymore.  If no one ever fails we take away the ability to learn from failure.

Look at some other cultural issues.  The nuclear family is being lost.  Divorce effects 50% of our marriages.  Drugs abuse?  We have now legitimized marijuana in two states and chaos is breaking out as they do not know how to handle this new law.  Alcohol abuse?  Homelessness?  Abortion?  We are a society who has made it legal to kill unborn babies.  Cell phones, computers and gadgets allow us to stay isolated and  keep us further separated from any relationships whatever.  If we have no relationship with family, friends, faith then how can we distinguish right or wrong?   We are more polarized in our politics.  There is the left and right.  I believe Reagan and Clinton worked with their congresses to solve problems and find solutions.  Working with not setting against.

The solution to all of this comes from a large discussion not just the simplicity of more gun control.  As a society we are becoming less and less engaged with each other while at the same time believing through our technology we are closer than before.  No Skype will replace the touch of a hand in yours no matter how we try to tell ourselves that it is just as good.

I believe there will be wreaths brought to this school in Connecticut.  Wreaths to Remember.  These wreaths will also honor these sweet souls.  Hopefully they will allow us to learn the lessons to help change our world for the better.

As we remember all of those who are gone today let us please not let the deaths of the military be for nothing.  They died protecting our freedom.  Let us honor them and the sweet children and the adults in Newtown.  Let us learn that we as a nation need restore the values that made us great.  We need to come together as people of faiths.  Not one faith – the many faiths who share similar values.  We need to become bi-partisan not polarized.

Yesterday many of us, including our President, went to prayer and scripture.  I think that just may be the best starting point.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s