Freeport-flag-ladies-WAA-monument
Freeport Flag Ladies honored at monument

On Friday, September 11th, 2020, Wreaths Across America calls for every American to stand outside and wave a flag for one minute at 8:46AM, 9:03 AM, 9:37AM and 10:03AM.

  • At 8:46 a.m., On Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, five hijackers took control of American Airlines Flight 11 and flew it into the heart of New York City and the northern facade of the World Trade Center’s North Tower (1 WTC). 
  • At 9:03 a.m., five other hijackers flew United Airlines Flight 175 into the southern facade of the South Tower (2 WTC).
  • At 9:37 a.m., another five hijackers flew American Airlines flight 77 into the western facade of the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia
  • At 10:03 a.m., four hijackers crashed United Airlines Flight 93 into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania

It is fitting that the design of the Wreaths flag waving across America followed the events of 9/11, was by three patriotic women from Maine, (Elaine Greene, Joann Miller and Carmen Foote). Fitting because the original founding of the celebration was by another Maine resident, Morrill Worcester, in 1992. 

They were moved to find an old American flag they had stored at home and stand on a hill in Freeport, Maine, waving that flag to honor victims. These women became nationally known as “The Freeport Flag Ladies,” and proudly hoisted the Stars and Stripes every Tuesday morning for the following 18 years. 

After they retired on September 11, 2019, (their last 9/11 remembrance) the following Tuesday, September 17, 2019, Wreaths Across America took the helm and continued the weekly flag waving tradition along US Route 1 in Jonesboro, Maine, on land donated by the organization’s founder Morrill Worcester leading to the new Acadia National Cemetery. 

Since that time Mr. Worcester has added a mile stretch of American flags (105 in total) on both sides of the road that lead to the entrance of Acadia National Cemetery which will open to the public for the first time on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. Mr. Worcester also donated the land for this new National Cemetery to be built in his hometown.

“Each Tuesday, we are joined by dozens of members of the local community and curious people stopping to be part of something meaningful,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America, and wife of Morrill Worcester. “Especially over the last six months, this flag waving has taken on new meaning for us all and given a spark of hope and patriotism during this difficult time in our country.” 

Participants are encouraged to take video and pictures of their participation in the national flag waving and share them with Wreaths Across America, their family and their friends to help REMEMBER, HONOR and TEACH the generation born after 9/11, how hard times can strengthen us as a nation. Please use the hashtag #FlagsAcrosstheCountry and #AmericaStrong when posting on social media and tag the Wreaths Across America Official Facebook page

“My husband and the community’s commitment to the mission and continuation of this important weekly tradition has taken on the additional meaning of American unity during this uncertain time,” added Karen. “I hope Americans will see this as an opportunity to not only honor those directly affected by 9/11, but also to follow in the footsteps of “The Freeport Flag Ladies.”

When looking at volunteer agencies across our own neighborhoods, I had the opportunity to talk to a volunteer who has taken the job of laying wreaths to heart. Only a few miles northwest of JFK Airport, in Cypress Hills is Cypress Hills Cemetery. It is at that location that Jose Martinez will be leading a large group of volunteers to honor veterans and those killed in the 9/11 attack. 

Jose’s story in itself is inspiring. The year was 2009 when Jose, while serving as a member of the Civil Air Patrol, learned about Wreaths Across America. He volunteered to cover Cypress Hills Cemetery in the wreath laying and ceremonial activities that followed. The local head of WAA then appointed Jose team leader of that location, at which time he had 7 volunteers. At that ceremony, a member of the audience at the event asked if he could make comments. The speaker turned out to be a WWII veteran and after his extemporaneous speech, not a dry eye was in the audience.

FREEPORT-MAINE-FLAG-LADIES
Freeport Flag Ladies hold certificate

The usual practice for decorating the graves is to place wreaths on the headstones, along with the service flag in which the veteran served; US Army, US Air Force, US Navy, US Marines and US Coast Guard. 

Jose’s story is a testament to the work and the time our citizens are willing to spend in honoring the heroes of our country. As collateral benefit, he passes on this dedication to the volunteers, many of them young, that he trains. He said to me; “It is time to give back to the country and community that has given me so much.”  

Wreaths Across America is the non-profit organization best known for placing veterans’ wreaths on the headstones of our nation’s fallen at Arlington National Cemetery. However, the organization, in total, places more than 2 million sponsored wreaths at over 2200 participating locations nationwide.

You can sponsor a wreath for $15 at https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. Each sponsorship goes toward a fresh balsam veteran’s wreath that will be placed on the headstone of an American hero as we endeavor to honor all veterans laid to rest on Saturday, December 19, 2020, as part of National Wreaths Across America Day.

Joseph Alba
Mr. Alba was previously Editor of the Airport Press for 12 years covering both local as well as global aviation news. Prior to this, Mr. Alba had Executive positions in Systems Engineering and Marketing with IBM World Trade, and had foreign assignments in the Far East and Latin America earning three Outstanding Achievement Awards. Mr. Alba also directed a new function dealing with Alternate Fuels for Public Service Electric & Gas company in New Jersey and founded a Natural Gas Vehicle Consortium consisting of car company executives and fleet owners, and NGV suppliers in New Jersey. Mr. Alba was a founding partner of ATA, an IT Consulting company which is still active in Central and South America. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Alba’s initial employee was the U.S. Defense Department as an analyst.

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