COLUMBIA FALLS — The country’s longest veterans parade — Wreaths Across America’s annual escort to Arlington National Cemetery — kicks off on Saturday, Dec. 11, and will make a planned stop in Ellsworth at Maine Coast Mall on Dec. 12 at 9 a.m. “Live Up to Their Legacy” is this year’s theme.
Ellsworth will be the first stop on the escort’s trip to Arlington National Cemetery. Starting at 8 a.m. the Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit will be set up for walk-through.
There will be two guest speakers. Michael Durant is an American pilot and author. He was a member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Night Stalkers) as a chief warrant officer 3. He retired from the Army as a chief warrant officer 4 Blackhawk helicopter master aviator in the 160th SOAR after participating in combat operations Prime Chance, Just Cause and Desert Storm, and also Gothic Serpent, in which he was briefly held prisoner in 1993 after a raid in Somalia. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and many others.
Sophie Lynch of Ellsworth, who is a freshman at Ellsworth High School, will be the second guest speaker. She has been spreading awareness about the nation’s veterans, including those who might be suffering from mental illness in need of everyday essentials. She is helping raise funds for veterans in need.
Ellsworth will also “Welcome Home” some local Vietnam veterans with a special pinning ceremony before wishing the truck drivers and caravan a farewell on their travels south.
The official escort will travel down the East Coast stopping at schools, memorials and other locations along the way to spread the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach. Stops with public events will be held in Maine, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Washington, D.C., before arriving at Arlington National Cemetery on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 18 — National Wreaths Across America Day.
To view the complete schedule, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/arlington-escort-information.