September 15, 2017

Wreaths across Windham - Everlasting Gratitude to resume adornment of veterans’ graves by Walter Lunt

Apopular and time-honored tribute to Windham war veterans will resume this fall. Everlasting Gratitude (E.G.), which places decorated wreaths on the graves of Windham’s fallen heroes, will be revived this December following a 2016 lull.
Begun in 2014, by Studio Flora (Florist and Gift Shop) owner Libby Sawyer and family, the program created hand-made bows for over 800 wreaths that dignified veterans’ gravesites in more than 20 cemeteries throughout Windham.

Following two successful years, the program faltered last year due to lack of funds. In 2017, thanks in large part to American Legion Field-Allen Post 148-member Walter Braley, E.G. will breathe new life into this program.

“(Walter) was the big impetus to getting this going again,” said Post Commander Mel Greenier. “He brought (the subject) up at every single meeting.”

The frequent reminders spurred an aggressive campaign to revive the wreath program and possibly establish it as an annual event.

According to Legion Post literature, “The (wreath program) mirrors Wreaths Across America that provides wreaths at veterans’ graves in national cemeteries.”

The national effort also originates in Maine from a tree farm in Cherryfield.

In Windham, there are over 24 cemeteries with more than 800 veterans’ graves dating back to the Revolutionary War. The wreaths are adorned with red, white and blue ribbons. Legion Post members, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, the Windham Historical Society, church groups and other volunteers will participate in wreath-laying ceremonies that will coincide with those at national cemeteries sometime in early December.

The E.G. budget, based on the cost of wreaths and ribbons in past years, is set at $6000. 

Adjutant/Finance Officer David Tanguay says a recent donation from the non-profit Duane Clark (Scholarship) Fund put the latest tally at just over $4000.

Volunteers are currently being sought to help craft professional looking bows and to attach them to the wreaths. The workshop will take place on Monday, October 2, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Windham Veterans Center. Libby Sawyer of Studio Flora will provide instruction. If possible, volunteers should bring shears and pliers.

Donations to Everlasting Gratitude can be made by mail at American Legion Wreaths, PO Box 1776, Windham, ME 04062, or through GoFundMe at Donations are tax deductible. And all funds are dedicated to E.G. – any extra funds will carry over to the following year’s wreath program.

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