Wreaths Across America's Kid's Corner Presents Thomas Ritchey in College Station, Texas

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 interview on Wreaths Radio on Friday mornings, and check out some of their photos on our Facebook pages.

13-year-old Thomas Ritchey is in the 7th grade and volunteers his time at the College Station Cemetery in College Station, Texas. “I do this stuff with Wreaths Across America so that we can remember the veterans. I feel like the veterans are kind of forgotten through normal everyday life. People just go about their normal business and don’t think about them much. I really care about them, so that’s why I put flags and wreaths out for them. I’ve even put out American flags on everyone’s mailboxes around my street. They’ve died for our country, and if they’re not remembered, then that sacrifice is in vain.”

Thomas uses part of his birthday money to sponsor veterans’ wreaths. For his last birthday he asked attendees to bring chips, candy, and other goodies to put into two large care packages for deployed troops overseas.

Thomas says he’s been successful in recruiting other youth to get involved, but he admits it can sometimes be a tough sell. “Most young people don’t have the deep understanding that I do,” Thomas explains. “My sister and her husband both have been in the Air Force, and my brother is active duty Marine Reserves. My Mom was in the Army, and my Dad was born in Germany, so we have family members who served during World War II for Germany and for the Allies.”

Thomas’ mom, Darlene, is proud of her son’s efforts on behalf of veterans. “When Thomas learns that a veteran in our neighborhood has passed away, he goes and stands outside the cemetery with his flags. During this COVID-19 thing, he recently sent a letter to the veterans in our local veterans’ home and included patriotic drawings.”

Wreaths Radio aired Thomas’s letter to veterans during the Memorial Day broadcast on the Wreaths Radio Morning Show.

Thanks, Thomas, for helping us remember, honor, and teach. You can hear more from our Kid’s Corner interviews in our Kid’s Corner special reports on Fun Fridays at 9:15 AM EST during the Wreaths Across America Radio Morning Show.