Wreaths Across America honors heroes

By: Rob Hughes Email
By: Rob Hughes Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KKCO) -- Many of us thank veterans in our own way, maybe donating a few dollars to a veteran's charity; then we go about our lives.

But for the families of those who gave their lives, the heartache never stops.

"That particular year, we only had seven wreaths that came in. They were for the five branches of service, plus the American flag and POW," said Art (Groady) Edwards, a Navy veteran and Patriot Guard Rider.

The Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) is a motorcycle club whose members attend the funerals of U.S. Armed Forces members, firefighters and police at the invitation of the deceased’s family.

The Patriot Guard Riders also attend homecomings for servicemen and servicewomen. Edwards first got involved with the "Wreaths Across America" project in 2007.

"The last three years, we've been able to provide a wreath on every headstone here, and also a number that go in front of the colubariums," said Art.

The Wreath Across America project was started nearly 20 years ago by the Worchester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine.

"They had some wreaths left over, and the gentleman didn't know what to do with them, and a military officer was involved who said 'Why don't you donate them to Arlington?'" explained Art.

Now, Patriot Guard Rider groups nationwide have taken on the project, getting wreaths to place on thousands of tombs at over 450 veteran's cemeteries at Christmas, including the Veteran's Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado in Grand Junction.

"It was very inspiring," said Margaret Edwards, Art's wife who also helps organize the event.

Margaret has been involved with Wreaths Across America since the beginning.

"We didn't have enough wreaths to cover the whole cemetery, so some of us made red ribbons, and put them on every other headstone, so everybody had something on their grave site," said Margaret.

As time went on, people began to notice what the Patriot Guard Riders were doing.

"People that I have spoken to, they're very appreciative of what we do here; it makes them feel good I think to see a wreath on their loved ones grave," said Margaret.

The Patriot Guard Riders rely on businesses and individuals to sponsor wreaths.

"They've been more than generous in this valley to help us maintain and get our goal for the wreaths down here, along with the loved ones that have family and friends buried here," said Art.

To show solidarity for those who have given their lives for us, the same ceremony will be held at Arlington and all participating veteran's cemeteries on Dec. 15 at 10 a.m. our time.

"You're getting the satisfaction that you're giving back to the veterans that went before you: the ones that have provided what we've got in this country, because without it, none of us would be here," said Art.

The Patriot Guard Rider's goal this year is 1,300 wreaths. You can purchase a wreath for $15. All donations are tax deductible.

The wreaths will be shipped from Worchester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine. Wal-Mart has volunteered trucks to deliver the wreaths.

To know about about the Wreaths Across America Project, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

If you're interested in sponsoring a wreath, please contact Art Edwards at (970) 434-7053.

For more information on the Patriot Guard Riders, visit the links below under Related Links.

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