On Wednesday, the organisation was greeted by over 800 young students at their school in Middletown, N.J. The children, waving American flags, attended the wreath laying ceremony honoring the Battle of the Bulge veterans.
The Wreaths Across America caravan began its journey in Maine, on December 7, with over 10 trailer trucks filled with wreaths and had its final stop on December 14, at Arlington National Cemetery, where they laid approximately 100,000 wreaths.
The convoy was led by the Maine and New Jersey State Police, the American Gold Star Families and the Patriot Guard Riders, together with Maine’s First Lady Ann LePage, who traveled by motorcycle.
The Wreaths Across America organization was founded by Worcester Wreath Company in Maine, in 1992. Among those who attended the ceremony were 13 Second World War veterans who also served in the Battle of the Bulge: Joseph Scott, Theodore Roesch, Charles Nelson and William Lang are just a few of the names on the list.
They laid a wreath at Thorne Middle School’s Battle of the Bulge memorial. One of the vets joked about the weather saying that if he were back in Belgium, he would have dug a foxhole.
The school organised a program for the ceremony, called “The Christmas They Never Had”, during which the children read stories about the veterans, their experiences during the war and about being away from their families on Christmas Day, in 1944.
They also sang “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, “Silent Night” and joined by the veterans, “God Bless America”.
“I’m not a hero. The heroes are the ones who didn’t come back,” said Thomas Scriffignano, a 91-year-old veteran, also present at the ceremony, who insisted that the event wasn’t honoring him, but those who did not come back.
Charles Nelson, 88, felt a little overwhelmed buy the memories as some were good and some were very sad, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
Pasquale Casanova, 88, recalled the time when he enlisted and he was only 17 years old. He said that there are things he will never forget.
George “Red” Ellis, 87, is an ex-POW who escaped two times from the Nazi. He told Free Beacon how he was re-captured and placed in a box car. He and the other 19 soldiers escaped from the box cars and walked to a town nearby.
Wreaths Across America had laid wreaths across all the 50 states, on 24 cemeteries on foreign soil and at sea on Saturday, Dec. 14.