Remember. Honor. Teach.
One Lutheran Senior Services (LSS) resident is preparing to honor veterans through a special volunteer opportunity. Ann Shadowens, resident of Laclede Groves, an LSS life plan community, participates in Wreaths Across America Day.
“Honoring veterans is important to me,” said Ann. “What a blessing to be able to have the freedom I’m given to do what I do at Laclede Groves to honor the veterans.”
Wreaths Across America Day is celebrated by coordinated wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 2,500 additional locations across the United States. In the St. Louis region, the ceremony is set for December 17 at 11:00 am at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. The goal is to cover 50,000 of the 200,000 veteran graves there. To reach that goal, Wreaths Across America relies on sponsors and volunteers like Ann!
Ann comes from a military family background where her father, uncle, two brothers, brother-in-law, nephew, and husband all are veterans. She belongs to American Legion Post 404 and also regularly volunteers at St. Louis VA Medical Center-Jefferson Barracks. In addition she heads up collection drives of coats and hoodies to donate to veterans who are released from the medical center.
On Wreaths Across America Day, at each participating location, volunteers will place wreaths on the marker of a fallen hero. That volunteer will then “say their name” to ensure that the legacy of duty, service, and sacrifice of that veteran is never forgotten.
Each of the 10 balsam bouquets that comprises a veteran’s wreath symbolizes a special quality, such as belief, love, strength, honesty, humility, ambition, optimism, concern, pride, and hope. The wreath itself is full of symbolism, too. The evergreens symbolize longevity and endurance, the red bow symbolizes great sacrifice, the “forest” scent symbolizes purity and simplicity, and the circular shape symbolizes eternity.
This year’s Wreaths Across America Day theme is “Find a Way to Serve” and in support of this Wreaths Across America is launching a new TEACH program to teach the next generation about the value of freedom. This program is free to download here.
Ann has supported the Wreaths Across America program for years. Her enthusiasm has been contagious as fellow residents have joined the cause. The response has been “overwhelming” this year. “I got over 50 sponsored already from residents here,” said Ann. “I feel like the most blessed person at Laclede Groves!”
Why does she invest her energy into veteran causes? She is grateful to those who have served and wants to ensure their memories are honored. “Their legacy gives us all the freedoms that we have. The freedom to do what I am doing!” said Ann.