Wreaths Across America mobile unit stops in Clarion

Noreen Shirey was looking for a special way to honor veterans, and she found it in Wreaths Across America.

“We invited the national organization’s mobile education exhibit so people would know what our mission is. We want to teach the next generation about the sacrifice our military has made,” said Shirey, the Clarion County coordinator of Wreaths Across America, who helped organize the mobile education exhibit’s stop at the Clarion Mall on Sunday.

The unit contained an exhibit, a video presentation and things for children.

Shirey said Wreaths Across America started in Maine when Morrill Worcester, as a boy, won a trip to Washington, D.C. He visited Arlington National Cemetery and was inspired.

In 1992, according to Shirey, Morrill had a surplus of wreaths from his business and asked Arlington if he could place them there.

“It has grown exponentially since then. Now we have over 2,500 cemeteries nationally that participate,” she said. “Wreaths Across America is in every state and now they go to Pearl Harbor, Normandy and Luxembourg, where the Battle of the Bulge was fought.”

In Clarion County, the organization honors veterans in the Immaculate Conception and Clarion cemeteries in Clarion, Rimersburg, which just joined this year, and three cemeteries in Knox.

According to Shirey, there are three local fundraising organizations: the Clarion Civil Air Patrol, the Clarion First United Youth Group and the Central Clarion Wildcats football team. The charge for a wreath is returned to the fundraising organization.

“On Dec. 19 (Wreaths Across America Day), they will come out and help us to place the wreaths in the cemeteries,” she said. “Last year. we placed 1,050 wreaths. All of the wreaths come from Maine.

“The Boys Scouts and others place flags on the graves for Memorial Day and we take them down. It is a special way to honor our veterans.”