And if you don't know what that is, here's a little history lesson. In 1992 the Worcester Wreath company of Harrington Maine found themselves with a surplus of wreaths towards the end of the Christmas season. Morrill Worcester, the owner of the company, remembered a visit he had made to Arlington National cemetery, and he thought that he could pay his respects to our fallen heroes, but taking the extra wreaths to Arlington. He contacted the state rep at the time, Olympia Snow...and arrangements were made to lay the wreaths in one of the older sections of the cemetery, where, more than likely, the grave sites were not visited often. With the help of many civic groups, this became an annual event, growing slightly each year. Once in a while I remember hearing about the wreaths going down in the news, but all in all.. it was a pretty quiet event. In 2005, a photo was taken of Arlington with the wreaths in place, all covered in snow... it hit the Internet, and as things often do... the photo went world wide, and the project received national attention. The entire story can be read on the Wreaths Across America website, and if you get a moment I suggest you pop over there and take a look.
But back to our story. June, puppy raiser of Vicki, met up with a group while she was out on her travels, that go to Arlington each year. When she told them about NEADS and that any service dog going to a veteran is donated, they asked her if she would like to go to Arlington with them. She said yes, and extended the invitation to us. Both Rick and I said that we would love to go, and so... here it is.
Now, when the trucks leave Maine and head to Arlington, it's quite the thing. They are now escorted the entire trip and make stops along the way, honoring other cemeteries where our veterans lay. Of course they need to rest over night and many companies offer that space for them to come and rest. Cabela's being one. So, tonite, the Maine puppy raisers met at Cabela's to welcome the trucks and send them on their way with warm greetings...This year, there are 25 trucks traveling to DC they carry over 150,000 wreaths!!!! From what I understand, it's the biggest year yet, and because of the donations and help that has come, they say every grave site will have a wreath. I can't imagine what this is all going to be like. While we waited for the trucks to arrive, the puppies played and schmoozed the crowd. It was a cold winter night, but we really enjoyed the time.
Looking at this from a personal, selfish point of view... I am so excited for this training opportunity for the puppies. I'm excited and nervous about going into the city, and all the "city things" we will do... but if this goes as well as I hope, I have a feeling this is just the first of other trips.
After we waited outside for a couple of hours, word came threw that the trucks were running late. (sort of figured that), so we headed into the store to warm up. Nice thing about the service puppies, they can go "in". Many of the crowd did the same thing, so we got a chance to talk with folks about NEADS, and our up coming trip, and just had a really fun time.
Then I heard the beautiful sound of bagpipes and coming threw the store was the Drum and Bagpipe corps. Seems they decided that since they were cold too, and warming up in the store, it would be fun to entertain the crowd.
At first Rylie was a little unsure of all that noise. Marv, as you can see, could care less. But Abbie was a good comfort for Ry and once she realized what was happening, she settled in just fine.
Personally, I was thrilled to watch and hear them play. I love the bagpipes (and yes--- KILTS) and could have just stayed here all evening. This group has played together for a long time and they are very good.....
Being so big, the sound was beautiful in the store. And the drum major was quite talented... if this is any omen of what our trip will be like... I really can hardly wait!!!!
After the performance, I asked a couple of the group if we could get a photo opt with the puppies. They were more than happy... so, great evening for me, and Rylie can put on her list of events.... "bagpipe music"
Back into the night, the trucks were arriving. Sadly my little camera couldn't make up it's mind about "how" to take photos, so I didn't get many good ones. Watching those beautiful trucks pull into the parking area, escorted by motor cycles and police.... it's hard to describe the feeling that you get.
They did a few speeches... Karen Worcester, the wife of Morrill made a little speech (guess he isn't much for talking in front of the crowds) and presented Cabela's with their wreath. They will make other stops and presentations on their week long trek south. There were several honor guards and all kinds of civic groups playing part. It was grand.
Before we headed out, another photo opt of the puppies with the wreath presented to Cabela's... this one has a little flag on it representing each branch of the services....
See you in Arlington!!!!!!!!!!