Wreaths Across America arrives in the Panhandle

Okaloosa County

DESTIN, Fla. (WMBB) – A national veterans remembrance organization is currently making its way through Florida.

Wreaths Across America is a network of volunteers who help people honor and remember fallen veterans.

Their mission is to remember, honor and teach people about fallen troops.

The organization has been placing veteran remembrance wreaths for almost 30 years at Arlington National Cemetery, but they have recently expanded their outreach to include a mobile education exhibit.

Onboard the exhibit, there are storyboards for people to read about the history of the organization, as well as a short video.

Stefan Brann is the driver ambassador for Wreaths Across America. He said he hit the road in July 2020 and spent five months attending 77 events in 54 cities.

“We didn’t know the depth of the organization until we visited our national headquarters in 2018,” Brann said. “We came away from that visit pretty moved and inspired to tell everybody… We came away from that saying we are going to tell everybody about this little did we know that in 2020 we would be telling everybody, and it’s to the tune of over 10,000 people through this trailer in a little over a year’s time.”

Les Matheson is a local veteran who served in the Air Force for over 26 years, and he came to show his support for the program.

“It’s inspirational… You get to that time of year and the people put these wreaths out on the cemeteries,” Matheson said. “When you do it here, it’s different than when you do it up North in the snow and it looks all festive and Christmas-y. Down here, it’s more of a memorial thing. It’s a different kind of feeling, I think.”

The Daughters of the American Revolution are close partners with Wreaths Across America, and the West Florida chapter was thrilled to welcome the mobile exhibit to the Panhandle for the first time.

“The DAR has a special relationship with Wreaths Across America, and our chapter has brought the mobile education exhibit to our area to teach honor and promote Wreaths Across America in our community, and we are so thrilled they are here,” DAR regent Connie Lee said. “It’s a beautiful exhibit, and we are just thrilled to have them.”

The mobile education exhibit has 15 more stops left in Florida throughout the month of October, including Navarre on Tuesday, October 5, and Fort Walton Beach on Wednesday, October 6.

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