The Franklin Square & Munson Fire Department Explorer Post 710 took part in the National Wreaths Across America Day event at the Long Island National Cemetery on Dec. 15. Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization that organizes wreath-laying ceremonies for veterans every December at more than 1,400 locations across the country.
Six members of the Explorer Post 710, along with three advisors, hopped into an FS&MFD van together and volunteered for more than two hours to set up wreaths at the tombstones and gravesites of Long Island veterans. Post Advisor Kathy Musgrave said that she and her fellow advisors participated in the Wreaths Across America program last year and believed it would be a good event to expose the teens in the Explorer Post to.
“It’s a good opportunity for the kids to learn about what it was to be a veteran and how to respect them for their service,” Musgrave said.
At the cemetery, they met with several other volunteers, and the teens even assisted the other groups as they carried wreaths to each gravesite and helped set them up. The family members of the deceased veterans thanked the volunteers and shared stories about their loved ones. The ceremony ended with a salute to the veterans as vintage planes flew over the cemetery to honor those lying there.
Musgrave described the experience as humbling and said the Explorers were excited to take part in next year’s Wreaths Across America. While the Explorer Post focuses on teaching teens ages 14 to 18 firefighting skills, it also strives to teach teens lives lessons and respect for their communities, which is why Musgrave wanted the teens to participate in the wreath event.
“The wreaths serve as a witness for our heroes in their own communities,” she said. “It ensures that the lives of the men and women who served are remembered.”