A Navy veteran from Middletown was chosen for the National Wreaths Across America Arlington Escort to deliver wreaths to veterans cemeteries in six states.
In 2016, the Wreaths Across America caravan stopped at Silver Lake Elementary School for the first time.
Principal Christy Boyd remembers one of the fifth graders standing outside the school to lead the goodbye to the veterans heading off to Arlington National Cemetery.
“Although you may not remember us, we will always remember you,” she recalled the student saying.
Boyd said those words were spoken in true sincerity not realizing the affect that it had at the time.
When the convoy returned the following year, dozens of caravan members exited the vehicles with green signs that said, “We remember SLE.”
“It may be one of the most powerful moments of my educational career,” Boyd said.
Middletown will be a part of this special moment once again, this time in the caravan.
Gene Hall, a Navy veteran from Middletown, was chosen for the National Wreaths Across America Arlington Escort to deliver wreaths to veterans cemeteries in six states.
Hall, who helps organize the wreath-placing program at Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear, is one of 100 people who were invited to ride along, and he is grateful. He emphasized that he is not going as Gene Hall but as all of Middletown.
“This is my way of saying thanks to Middletown for all the support over the years,” he said.
His wife Laurie will ride with him.
The caravan starts in Maine and ends at Arlington National Cemetery Dec. 14, National Wreaths Across America Day.
For the past three years, the caravan has stopped at Silver Lake Elementary before placing wreaths at the Delaware cemetery. This year the stop is Glasgow High School in Newark.
Boyd, Silver Lake Elementary principal, said students presented wreaths, gave speeches and wrote notes for guests. They welcomed the caravan and gave handmade gifts to the participants.
“The WAA convoy visit was is a life changing experience,” she said. “It gave us such an incredible opportunity to educate our students, staff, and families about serving our country, while honoring so many who have.”
Silver Lake would love to host it again, Boyd said, but they are glad other students, staff and families will experience it.
Every December, the national organization places wreaths on the graves at Arlington and other veterans cemeteries. They shipped 1.75 million wreaths to 1,640 cemeteries in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Defense website.
Hall said they expect to lay 2 million this year. About 6,000 will be in the First State.
WAA held a bowling fundraiser at Mid County Lanes Nov. 13 to collect money for the wreaths that will be placed at Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
The escort will start Dec. 7 in Maine and arrive at Glasgow High Dec. 12 at 11:15 a.m. Glasgow High did not respond for comment by time of publication.