Chris Bush of Frisco learned about patriotism from his son.
U.S. Army Cpl. Peter John Courcy was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan on Feb. 10, 2009. The 22-year-old’s Frisco High School graduate’s return home in a casket was the saddest day in Bush’s life. But it also stirred something more.
“I was never more proud to be an American that day,” Bush said.
One of the ways that he carries on Courcy’s legacy is through the Wreaths Across America program, which aims to place a wreath on the gravesite of every veteran during the holidays. People can sponsor a wreath at a participating veterans cemetery or through a specific fundraising group. Each sponsored wreath costs $15.
Bush said he believes in the program’s mission: to remember the fallen, to honor those who serve and to teach children about the sacrifices that veterans and their families have made to preserve this country’s freedoms.
It’s what Bush teaches his younger son. Five-year-old Luke never got to meet his older brother. But in a few weeks he and his parents will walk to Section 76 at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery where Courcy is laid to rest.
“We want to take him out to the cemetery and show him that people appreciate his brother’s sacrifice and that people care about the service that he gave,” Bush said.
In 2008, fewer than 50 wreaths were donated to D-FW National Cemetery for the program. Bush and his wife, Mary, learned about the program after Courcy’s death and have been spreading the word ever since. Last year, there were a record 11,300 wreaths for gravesites at the D-FW National Cemetery. The goal this year is to exceed that number.
The Rotary Club of Frisco and American Legion’s Bill Bryan Post No. 110 in McKinney have also joined in to spread the word and get more wreaths donated to D-FW National Cemetery.
The deadline to order is Dec. 1. The wreaths will arrive at the cemetery by the truckload from drivers who donate their time to the cause.
A ceremony is planned at 10:50 a.m. Dec. 13 at D-FW National Cemetery on National Wreaths Across America Day. This year’s guest speaker is Maj. Gen. Keith Lee Thurgood. After a brief ceremony, everyone who attends will get to help place the holiday wreaths among the more than 44,000 gravesites.
More than 900 similar ceremonies are planned at the same time across the country. This year’s ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, where the wreath program started in 1992, will also honor the cemetery’s 150th anniversary.
Carol Miller of Grand Prairie helped place wreaths at D-FW National Cemetery for the first time last year. She’s recruiting more family, friends and co-workers to join her this year.
“It’s a very moving experience,” said Miller, whose son spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“I definitely have a lot of appreciation for the sacrifices that families make,” Miller said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to send a kid over there, and they don’t come home.”
Don Roush is also participating for the second year in a row. He’s part of American Legion’s Bill Bryan Post No. 110 in McKinney.
The U.S. Army veteran served 12 years, three of them in Vietnam. He plans to take his 8-year-old grandson to this year’s ceremony in Dallas.
“We’re inviting the families and the children to walk out there and actually carry the wreaths and place them on [gravesites] and read the stone and see who’s there,” he said.
“It’s really touching to see that,” he said.
How to help
To learn more about the national program and its history, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org
Chris and Mary Bush are accepting wreath orders at www.HonorDFW.org. For every two wreaths ordered, a third wreath will be sent.
The Rotary Club of Frisco is accepting wreath orders at tinyurl.com/rotarydonation. A portion of the sales at this link supports the Rotary Club’s college scholarship awards to Frisco students.
The American Legion’s Bill Bryan Post No. 110 in McKinney is accepting wreath orders at www.mcklegion110.org.
The National Wreaths Across American Day ceremony is at 10:50 a.m. Dec. 13 at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway in Dallas.