Wreaths Across America Presents Kid's Corner
The three objectives of the Wreaths Across America mission are to remember our fallen heroes, honor those who currently serve, and teach younger generations the value of freedom. It’s that last objective that most would agree is vital. President Ronald Reagan may have said it best when he said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
More and more families participate with Wreaths Across America in wreath-laying ceremonies across the country, and about a third of the organizations’ volunteers are young people. In our monthly feature called Kid’s Corner, Wreaths Across America is recognizing youth volunteers who step up to do their part, making sure no hometown hero is forgotten. You can read about their efforts in our monthly newsletter, hear more of their actual interview on Wreaths Radio on Friday mornings, and check out some of their photos on our Facebook pages.
13-year-old Elise Ketler is a student at the Ryan Gloyer Middle School in Pennsylvania. Elise says her Mom, Connie, discovered Wreaths Across America on the internet, and she participated in her first wreath-laying activities at Arlington National Cemetery in 2017 when she was in sixth grade. It was there Elise connected with another Wreaths Across America volunteer who sparked her imagination on different ways to get involved back in her community. “She understood the impact,” Connie shared. “She hasn’t stopped since. We’re very proud of her giving up birthday and Christmas presents. While other kids are off during “community days” riding rides, she’s sitting at a booth talking to people about Wreaths Across America.”
Elise says a booth at “community days” in her hometown is just one way she raises sponsorships for veterans’ wreaths. “We also set up outside the school cafeteria during lunches too. I tell people it’s important to let our fallen soldiers know that, even though they’ve passed, they’re still loved, and we’re so thankful they served and helped protect our country.”
Elise tells us her uncle, grandpa, and great-grandpa have all served in the U.S. military, and that’s a big part of her motivation to volunteer with Wreaths Across America. Elise has had the opportunity to participate and support Arlington National Cemetery from 2017-2019. This year, she’s working to support a participating cemetery near her aunt and uncle in Denver, Colorado.
In addition to raising enough money in 2018 to cover 111 headstones, and 258 headstones last year, Elise also played an active role in making sure the Mobile Education Exhibit visited the school in 2020. Check this TV news story out to see how Elise has embraced the “teach” portion of the mission.
Thanks, Elise, for helping us remember, honor, and teach. You can hear more from our Kid’s Corner interviews in our Kid’s Corner special reports at 9:15 AM EST on Fun Fridays during the Wreaths Across America Radio Morning Show.