Wreaths Across America’s mobile education exhibit came to Brunswick over the July 4th holiday weekend.

Wreaths Across America is a national non-profit based in Columbia Falls, Maine. The organization has placed wreaths in cemeteries across the US as a way to remember veterans for almost 29 years. In 2019, the organization placed 2.2 million wreaths in 258 locations in the US and 2 locations overseas.

The trailer exhibit, which drives all across the country and has been in service since 2017, includes story boards and a video presentation about the organization and its mission.

“People need this right now, they need something to feel good about in this country,” said Wreaths Across America Driver Ambassador Stephan Brann. “Independence Day weekend goes all the way back to the revolutionary war and we need to say thank you to each and every veteran that served the United States.”

Brunswick resident and veteran Richard Barter, who first started volunteering with Wreaths Across America in 2010, said he thinks that the organization offers an important teaching element about the sacrifices that veterans have made for the country.

“I believe in their mission, and I want to try and help keep accomplishing it,” Barter said.

The 195th Maine Army National Guard Band, whose origin can be traced back to the mid-1920s, was there to perform music that ranged in both genre and era, covering musicians such as Brandi Carlisle and Tom Petty.

“I’ve always loved music.” said Sgt. Victoria Cox, who has been involved with the band for 40 years. “Our role is to share emotions and that’s the venue that we do.”

According to Cox, the band is typically one unit of around 35 people. When COVID-19 hit, however, the band split into two musical teams. This year, Cox estimated, the band will do close to 50 performances.

Harpswell resident and National Guard veteran Mark Gilbert and his wife, Joanne, said that they have always followed the band and come to see them whenever they perform in town.

“We certainly think it’s absolutely appropriate to kick off the fourth of July events,” Gilbert said. “I can’t imagine a better opportunity to start the weekend than to see a bunch of our soldiers performing for a crowd such as this.”

The event was sponsored by the town and Brunswick’s American Legion Post, and organized by Parks and Recreation staff and  Town Councilor David Watson, who served in the United States Air Force from 1966-70 and is legion’s commander. “I see this moving forward for the future,” Watson said. “I still have ideas of things to do.”

Sgt. Angela Pitteroff, who is a 195th Maine Army National Guard Band member, singing in Brunswick on Friday. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

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