Thank you to our veterans

To the editor,

Saturday, Dec. 19, was a very special day in Biddeford. Over 3,000 wreaths were placed on grave sites all over the city by volunteers who paid their respects to the veterans buried there. The snow came just days before the event, but that didn’t prevent the many volunteers from acknowledging the service that local veterans gave for their country. The outpouring of volunteers who trudged through the deep snow to place the wreaths was awesome!

I had the honor of getting involved with this event when local trucking company owner Graig Morin decided that he would piggyback onto the Wreaths Across America program that oversees the distribution of Christmas wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery and over 2,500 other locations. The support of the community in general made for a “feel good” day to wrap up a year that was anything but.

I want to thank everyone who got involved. From the initial commitment of Brown Dog Carriers to be the lead sponsor, to the kids who got an education about our hometown veterans while having enjoying the sunny day at the snow-covered gravesites. Thanks to groups like the St. Joseph Knights of Columbus for locating gravesites with survey flags, the Rotary Club of Biddeford and Saco for “manning” each of the depots at the St. Joseph Cemetery for wreath distribution, the Landry/French team at St. Mary’s and Greenwood Cemeteries, along with the folks at St. Demetrios, the bugle and bagpipe players, the cleanup crew and the gate keepers, monitoring traffic in and out of each location. And let’s not forget the truck drivers who went to Columbia Falls, Maine, to pick up the wreaths and the truck drivers who split up the trailer load into small utility trailer loads to go to each location. Let’s not forget the Scout packs who were involved in the flag-lowering ceremonies and to the veterans’ groups who were our go-to people to make sure it was all done with respect. Thanks also to Bruce Audie and his crew who recorded the event on video along with Tammy Wells of the Biddeford-Saco -OOB Courier and Channel 8 News for their coverage of the event.

The City of Biddeford was fully behind the day’s activities, calling for COVID-related restrictions but providing the support needed. From the use of traffic cones to snow plowing where needed and use of equipment. Also, the city’s Public Works Department came to the rescue to handle the recycling of all the empty cardboard boxes used to carry the wreaths. Special thanks also to the folks at Woodlawn Cemetery, making sure that it was well organized, coordinating with the Biddeford Fire Department and the local Boy Scouts there. And the cemetery crews at each location were so helpful, considering the snow depth we had to deal with.

Thanks also to all the sponsors, of the event, from those who gave major donations, those who paid for expenses of the day, those who bought a number of wreaths, and especially to those who bought individual wreaths to honor their family members who served. Special thanks to Volk Packaging for accommodating us at their Heroes’ Wall along with Landry/French Construction for their commitment at the St. Mary’s Cemetery, the Greenwood Cemetery and their Heroes’ Wall. Thanks also to Dana Peck of the Biddeford Historical Society for his efforts in getting wreaths to the 13 family “Ancient” cemeteries in Biddeford that are often forgotten.

Thanks also to Coastline Property Maintenance for the use of their vehicles to haul wreaths and plowing snow as needed. And to the Maine Professional Drivers Association for use of equipment. And a special thanks to Brown Dog Carriers and Graig Morin for all their efforts in making this a success. They were responsible for every aspect of the success of this event, from sponsoring wreaths, storing them on their site with their trailers, using their personnel to help at the event as well as to haul tractor trailer loads from northern Maine to Biddeford and hauling three more trailer loads to the National Cemeteries in Bourne, Massachusetts, and Arlington, Virginia.

And most of all, thank you to our veterans for their service and sacrifice to our country, making it possible for us to enjoy our lives in the manner we have become accustomed to.

Denis Litalien
Team Wreaths Member

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