Ride Report for Ride Captain Woody

Today’s event started at the Colonial Diner in East Brunswick in the cold morning hours.  Approximately a dozen volunteers, two of whom braved the wicked cold temperatures on their motorcycles, started the journey with the first stop at the East Brunswick Veterans Memorial Park.

When we arrived at the first location, WWR member, Woody, spoke to those in attendance about how today’s event came about and how the rest of the day would unfold;

The Arlington Wreath Project

The tradition of laying wreaths to honor our veterans during the holiday season began in 1992, when the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, was stuck with a number of extra wreaths at the close of the holiday season.

Remembering a boyhood trip to the Nation’s Capital, and the sacred grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, he donated 5,000 wreaths to be placed at the headstones of an older section of the cemetery.

What began as one man’s gesture has grown into a national movement – when in 2006 Wreaths Across America was formed as a non-profit.

Wreaths Across America

As part of the annual wreath-laying events at over 500 participating locations around the Nation, each year, donated wreaths are delivered to national veteran’s cemeteries around the Country, where thousands of volunteers take a quiet moment to show their gratitude and appreciation during the holiday season.

Each wreath honors all servicemen and women for their self-less sacrifice – and that of their families who are without loved ones during the holidays.

You are Not Forgotten

In 1971, while the Vietnam War was still being fought, Mary Hoff, wife if a MIA service member, recognized the need for a symbol of US POW/MIA’s.  The result is the now familiar black and white POW-MIA flag that is flown across the country.

You are Not Forgotten is the message that Wreaths Across America will share with all veterans.  From one generation to another, we will NEVER FORGET that the freedoms we enjoy, came at such a great cost.  Remember, Honor, Teach – which is the motto of Wreaths Across America.

2011 Wreaths Across NJ (WWR Style)

Warrior’s Watch Riders has had an on-going project to place wreaths in honor of those who have served our country and have since passed on.  The NJ WWR has done this a little differently than just laying wreaths onto grave sites.  We have tried to place wreaths, as many as we can, in a General Location for Each Cemetery or Memorial that we can visit in one day.  The 1st year we did a few. The 2nd year we did 12. Last year we placed 28, and this year we are laying an incredible 37 wreaths! We are already hoping to increase these numbers next year!

At each wreath location, we will hold a moment of silence to reflect on the lives that were lost in the name of freedom, as well as offer a short prayer.

Thank you for joining us and taking part of laying a wreath for the Heroes and Veterans who have gone before us……who have served to ensure the way of life and our freedoms that we all love so dearly.  As we place each wreath, I’m sure that you will walk away with an early holiday gift.

After a moment of silence, Woody recited the following prayer:

What is a Veteran?

A veteran is a person who fell in love with their country – for better, for worse – for richer, for poorer – in sickness and in health.

A Veteran is a person who is willing to lay down their life for the Statue Of Liberty so that her poor, her huddles masses, her homeless, her tempest tossed may breathe free and may enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

A Veteran is a person who does what he/she must – in spite of personal consequences – in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – for that is the basis of all human morality.

A Veteran is one who gets a lump in their throat when he/she sees our beloved flag.  One who will fight to protect our beautiful flag from those who dare to dishonor it.

A Veteran is who serves their country, honorably; and cherishes their freedom, passionately.

A Veteran is one well deserving of our appreciation, our love, and our prayers 365 days a year.

The second stop of the day was the Clarksburg Memorial Monument, where a short prayer was again offered by Woody.

‘You toiled so hard for those you loved. You said good-bye to none.

Your spirit flew before we knew. Your work on earth was done.

We miss you now. Our hearts are sore. As time goes by we miss you more.

Your loving smile, your gentle face. No one can fill your vacant place.

Your life was love and labor, your love for your family true.

You did the best for all of us, we will always remember you.’

The third stop of the day was the Brigadier General William F. Doyle Veterans Cemetery in Wrightstown.   Woody recited the following prayer;

I Said a Prayer for You Today

I said a prayer for you today and know God must have heard. I felt the answer in my heart although He spoke no word.  I didn’t ask for wealth or fame (I knew you wouldn’t mind). I asked Him to send treasurers of a far more last kind!  I asked that He be near you at the start of each new day; to grant your health and blessings and friends to share your way!  I asked for happiness for you in all things great and small. But it was for His loving care that I prayed for most of all!

Life is but a stopping place, a pause in what’s to be, a resting place along the road to sweet eternity. We all have different journeys, different paths along the way, we all are meant to learn some things, but never meant to stay.  Our destination is a place far greater than we know, for some, the journey’s quicker, for some the journey’s slow. And when the journey finally ends, we’ll claim a great reward, and find everlasting peace, together with the Lord.

Finally, we arrived at the new Veterans Memorial in Jackson, where we were greeted by a Korean War Veteran who asked if he could join us. Of course, we welcomed him with big hugs and gratitude of thanks for his service. In turn, he thanked us for what we were doing today.  We made his day!   It was fitting that Woody offered this final prayer of the day:

A Blessing In Uniform

Please bless the stranger in the faded uniform.

Give him the peace of a career well-served, and a service completed.

Give him my thanks for the doors he opened, the paths he paved, and the battles he spared us.

Please bless the stranger in the muddy uniform.

Hold her bold heart in the palm of Your capable hands, until she can feel the peace of home again.

Give her my thanks for the freedoms she preserves, the future she defends, the ideas she embodies.

Please bless the children admiring the uniform.

Guide them as they grow, drawing them into Your wisdom, into Your strength.

Give them my thanks for all that this world can and will be because of them – your strong and selfless soldiers.

Humbly submitted by

Deb Shelley, ‘Woody’, Sinister Steel MA