Wreaths Across America was started in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester and has expanded to hundreds of veterans' cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.
Peters Township High School baseball team got involved with this event 4 years ago with them senior Ryan Minteer, who brought the idea to the attention of Coach Joe Maize. After Ryan graduated, My son, Bill McLuckie, Now a senior, requested permission to continue this endeavor. Bill has handed this event coordination to Sophomore Ryan Tassone, to continue this now tradition for the team. When Bill took over the volunteer activity he immediately contacted Ethel and John Kenes, a retired purple heart veteran, and asked permission to continue the participation, and what the team can do to help.
A few years ago, the wreath laying ceremony started out small with only 100 people laying wreaths at the soldiers’ gravesites.
Today more than 1,000 people laid wreaths at more than 5,000 gravesites.
The wreaths were all donated and placed at gravesites by volunteers and other veterans’ organizations all paying tribute to the nation’s fallen heroes.
The organizing of the team volunteers starts in September when the Peters Twp DoamondBackers, The booster organization for the high school baseball team, allow Bill to address its members and coaches. Bill then reaches out through word of mouth to other team members and potential players throughout the school to make them aware of the event and what it signifies. The players and their family members gather at Peters Twp high school approximately an hour before the ceremony begins to organize carpooling and brief everyone on what to expect once we all arrive at the Cemetery of The Alleghenies, and what is about to take place.
This years event included 24 players from the Peters Twp High School Baseball team from all 4 grades and their parents for a total of over 35 volunteers, by far the biggest number of participants since the baseball has participated.
After the opening ceremony, the players go as a group to a section of the cemetery and begin laying the wreaths, one by one, following the direction of Marine veteran John Kenes; paying close attention to the name, the war or battle in which the soldier lost their lives, and the date in which they were born and the date that they died. Once all the wreaths have been laid for that section, the players, break down the boxes that the wreaths were in and stack them, making the job easier for cemetery staff to gather. Then they move on to another section and repeat this, until all the sections are represented.