Honoring fallen heroes

Wentzville eighth-grader joins Wreaths Across America effort to place wreaths on veterans’ gravestones

By Brett Auten

Amber Scheulen is on a mission.

Scheulen and the rest of the members Wentzville Civil Air Patrol Squadron have teamed up with Wreaths Across America, an organization whose mission is to remember, honor, and teach, in coordinating wreath laying ceremonies in December at Arlington National Cemetery as well as veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.

“We are not here to decorate graves,” Karen Worcester, Executive Director of Wreaths Across America said. “We’re here to remember not their deaths, but their lives.”

Each wreath is $15 and the Wentzville Civil Air Patrol Squadron has set a goal of 500 wreaths for 500 veterans and are asking for a donation to help them ensure every fallen veteran’s gravestone is graced with a green wreath this December.  

“They watched over us, now let us watch over them,” Scheulen said. “Help us remember and honor our fallen heroes.”

Scheulen, 13, is an eighth grader at Hollenbeck Junior High. She is an Airman First Class and has been in Civil Air Patrol for nearly a year-and-half with a focus on leadership, responsibility, and most of all teamwork.  

“With a team, I know I am not alone and in teamwork almost anything is possible and will happen with greater impact,” she said. 

The deadline for the project is Dec. 1. When you donate to Wreaths Across America, your money sponsors a wreath first and foremost. Eighty-six cents of every dollar donated goes toward wreath sponsorships, shipping costs not covered by trucking partners and fundraising group paybacks. Wreaths Across America operates on the remaining margin, keeping overhead low and paying wages to just eight full-time employees with the executive director and chairman taking zero salary.

Last year, the Wentzville Civil Air Patrol teamed up locally with the Legion Riders from American Legion Post 323 to honor neighbor veterans’ graves at Eternal Peace Cemetery, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Cemetery, and Linn Cemetery in Wentzville. At the ceremony, the Wentzville squadron will lock in alignment, and along with a color guard, honor and place a wreath on the grave while saying the veteran’s name aloud. 

Scheulen and her squadron have been contacting local businesses and reaching out to family members. As of last week, she had sold 20 wreaths. Her great-grandfather was a World War II Air Force veteran and her grandfather, a former police officer, has been helping spread the word.

“Many of the businesses have not responded yet,” she said. “A few have donated some wreaths.”

National Wreaths Across America Day is set for Dec. 17 and also planned is a week of events including international veteran’s tributes, ceremonies at state houses and a week-long Veteran’s Parade between Maine and Virginia.  

“I heard that the Civil Air Patrol can help you get into the Air Force,” Scheulen said. “I want to be an Air Force engineer. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in my school that’s in a civil air patrol.”

Scheulen has shared her experiences with classmates where the overwhelming response has been that of wonder.

“Some are like, ‘wow’, when I’ve told them that I have flown a plane,” she said. “I haven’t taken off or landed but once in the air I have taken over the passenger seat controls and they let me do a few turns and get the plane up to our destination height. It was really cool.”

For more information and to donate, go to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. To order from Scheulen specifically, call 636-634-8439 or email vscheulen@aol.com.

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