Convoy Day #4 (Wednesday)
After departing the Wal-Mart parking lot in Newburgh, NY, the convoy made its way down to Ridgefield, NJ to the Vince Lombardi Rest Area, but then pressed on to arrive at the Thorne Middle School in Port Monmouth, NJ. Based upon the account of the drive through New York, there were a few nail-biting moments for Heidi, but Joe was able to skillfully navigate our truck through the congested George Washington Bridge and press south. There has been no police support in New York, so the truckers are on their own. Everyone arrived safely at Thorne Middle School late morning.
Thorne Middle School is named after Corporal Horace “Bud” Thorne who died in the Battle of The Bulge during World War II. Corporal Thorne’s sister, Edith Kowels has been traveling with the convoy and she is honored to be part of this important visit. She spoke a bit during Ray Richardson’s interview at Westbrook Middle School before the convoy left Maine. Thorne is a Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. For more info: http://middletown-nj.patch.com/groups/holidays/p/wreaths-across-america-visits-thorne-middle-school-wednesday
Thorne was an amazing stop. All the students came together to raise over $6,000 in the entire district by each of them bringing in $1.00. At the school, each student was asked to pick a veteran over the past year and perform a research project about each of them. The hallways were lined with pictures of veterans, their service records and connections these students had in anticipation of the arrival of the Wreaths Across America convoy. After viewing all the projects, the students provided a presentation about Corporal Thorne via a short film and by reading survivor stories related to the Battle of the Bulge, where he lost his life. Bud’s sister Edith, who is travelling with the convoy was honored with the “Founder’s Award”.
The level of commitment and perseverance displayed by the students are testaments to the Wreaths Across America’s mission of Remember, Honor and Teach. It is remarkable what children can do. The convoy departed a little before planned due to concerns about traffic related to the Liberty Park stop.
Back with the aid of a police escort by New Jersey’s Finest, the convoy safely arrived at Liberty Park. After parking the trucks, all the participants were routed through an “airport style” security before boarding a ferry to ride to Liberty Island. (The Oakhurst Dairy event camera was lucky to make the trip – it raised a few eyebrows in the security checkpoint.) The ride on the ferry was brisk and once everyone arrived they attended a ceremony of the first wreath laid at the Statue of Liberty. Gold Star parents from the convoy and New Jersey were presented with wreaths and their loved ones that were lost were recognized. Morrill lit the wreath while Karen spoke about how long they have dreamed to lay a wreath at the Statue and what it means to them. The ceremony ended and the convoy headed for the next hotel in Bordentown, NJ for a warm meal and early night.
The drivers were told that the stop at Fort Dix the next day had been cancelled, so it looks like there will be a change of plans. More about that from tomorrow’s blog.