Matson Delivers 3,600 Wreaths to Honor Veterans
Matson Senior Vice President–Alaska Bal Dreyfus laying wreaths in honor of fallen veterans at Fort Richardson National Cemetery on December 18.
Since early December, 3,600 freshly-cut pine wreaths have made their way from northeastern Maine to Anchorage to be laid on the graves of veterans at Fort Richardson National Cemetery.
Shipping company Matson supported the effort by transporting the wreaths from Tacoma to Anchorage at no charge and working with trucking partners Weaver Bros. and Sourdough Express to transfer them to the national cemetery.
“It is important to remember our veterans and their families during the holidays and to thank them for their sacrifices,” says Bal Dreyfus, Matson’s Senior Vice President, Alaska.
“Without the support of our sponsors and volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to keep this event going all the way up here in Anchorage,” says Terry Michalsky, local coordinator for Wreaths Across America.
“It’s moving to see everyone come together across the nation to make this happen,” says Gold Star Father Greg Medina, who helped Michalsky organize the local event. “When everything is all laid out, it’s a beautiful and sobering reminder of what our freedoms truly cost.”
The mission of Wreaths Across America, a nationwide nonprofit organization founded in 2005, is to remember fallen US veterans, honor those who serve, and teach children the value of freedom.
The organization was established by Morrill Worcester, whose wreath-making company had been laying wreaths at headstones in Arlington Cemetery since 1992. The event has been held at Fort Richardson National Cemetery since 2009.
According to Michalsky, more than 300 people volunteered this year. To keep everyone safe and healthy, and to ensure compliance with COVID-19 regulations on base, the laying of wreaths was spread across several days with groups limited to ten and fewer.
“Being outside really gave us an advantage when it came to health and safety and being able to keep the event going even with all the restrictions,” says Milchalsky.
To watch this year’s virtual Wreaths Across America ceremony, go to the event Facebook page: “Wreaths Across America – Fort Richardson National Cemetery.”
The ceremony includes the laying of seven wreaths, with the first five honoring the branches of the military in their order of establishment: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force. The sixth wreath honors the Merchant Marine and the final wreath is laid to remember POW/MIA.
Anyone wishing to support the event can sponsor wreaths for the event at Fort Richardson National Cemetery in 2021 for $15 per wreath by visiting the “Wreaths Across America – Fort Richardson National Cemetery” Facebook page and clicking through to their website. Currently there are 7,000 veterans interned at the cemetery.
“We rotate which section we do each year, but people who sponsor wreaths are able to specify a headstone,” says Michalsky. “The headstone can be at any cemetery where a Wreaths Across America is held.”
Currently, Wreaths Across America operates at Arlington National Cemetery and at more than 2,100 locations in all fifty US states, at sea, and abroad.
This year the Alaska Railroad is celebrating 100 years of transportation people and cargo around Alaska. While the railroad is one of the states oldest transporters, it certainly isn’t the only one, and in this issue of Alaska Business we also check in on the Marine Highway, Span Alaska, and the White Pass & Yukon Route. For those interested in Southeast, our focus on that region provides updates on Kensington Mine, Tongass FCU, the troll fishery, and Juneau’s growing landfill.