Soloist sings at State House
MUNCY- Rebecca Kriner, a junior at Muncy High School, is a bit young to be drafted into service, but volunteered she was, by her grandmother Kathy Ryan. The assignment was to sing at the state capitol in Harrisburg during a ceremony of the “Wreaths Across America” program, an event honoring military veterans and their families. The gathering at noon on December 5th was partnered by the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association of whom Rebecca’s grandmother is associated.
“I was scared,” said the young singer who is a member of the Muncy High School Chorus. “I represented my school at District Chorus and will go a second time this spring, but that was nothing like this,” the soprano said. Added to the suspense, she was asked to change songs from “God Bless America” to the “National Anthem,” a more difficult piece.
As if the Capitol’s rotunda wasn’t awesome enough, the 150 in attendance included dignitaries, veterans, and guests from all over the state. Among dignitaries in the program were Senator Lisa Baker, Majority Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. The majority of veterans in attendance were from the Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre areas.
In retrospect, Rebecca is proud to have participated, as she has two WWII veterans with military distinction in her family. They are great-grandfathers L. H. Kriner of Williamsport and Hughesville native, the late Richard Andrews.
The “Wreaths Across American” ceremonies are held at the same time in State Capitols across the nation in addition to the Nation’s Capitol. The company responsible for starting the program nearly 20 years ago is the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine. The business found themselves with an excess of wreaths as the Christmas season neared, so the decorations were sent to Arlington National Cemetery where volunteers placed them on veteran’s headstones. Since then, the New England company has donated more than 100,000 wreaths.
In 2007, “Wreaths Across America” formed as a non-profit organization in order to allow individuals and groups to provide sponsorship dollars for wreaths.
The program’s mission statement emphasizes the phrase “Remember-Honor and Teach,” a short version for “Remember the fallen, Honor those who serve, and Teach our children the value of freedom.” Annually, dozens of students make the trip to Arlington National Cemetery to participate in the wreath-laying ceremonies.
On December 10, follow-up programs again were held concurrently in every state by laying the wreaths at national and state cemeteries. The Worcester Wreath Company continues to donate wreaths at each state capitol and one six foot wreath for the nation’s capitol during these events.