Pat (left) and Wayne (right) Johnston at Lincoln Academy. Wayne is a Vietnam Veteran, and the couple has traveled with the Wreaths Across America Convoy three times since 2015. They are helping to organize the December 8 Convoy stop at Lincoln Academy.

Wayne and Patricia Johnston of Nobleboro know all about the Wreaths Across America Convoy: they have traveled with the Convoy three times all the way from Columbia Falls, Maine to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. When the couple met with volunteers for the December 8 Convoy Stop at Lincoln Academy they described the Convoy, which stretches up to seven miles long when it begins its journey, before some vehicles break off for alternate destinations (wreaths are laid at cemeteries all over the nation and overseas, not just Arlington). The Convoy is made up of vehicles that include tractor trailer trucks full of Maine wreaths, state troopers in cars and on motorcycles, tour buses and cars full of veterans, Gold Star Families, and their relatives.

“You know what the Convoy is?” said Wayne Johnston, “It is the longest military parade there is. It is amazing to see it.”

The Johnstons are among dozens of volunteers working to make the December 8, 2019 Convoy Stop at Lincoln Academy as welcoming to veterans and their families as possible. The event is scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday, December 8 in the Lincoln Academy gym. Event organizers asked Pat she would encourage her friends and neighbors to attend the event at LA.

She wrote this response:

“‘Don’t just say you would like to go–GO!’ That was the response from someone when we talked about going on the Convoy. December 2015 was the first of three trips Wayne and I made with WAA from Maine to Arlington. Each was a week long trip stopping at schools, American Legion posts, and fire stations. All of our meals were provided by caring people who believed in our mission to honor the service of veterans.

It was a life changing experience for us. For Wayne, as a Vietnam veteran, it was part of his closure. Talking to other veterans, visiting the Vietnam Memorial museum in New Jersey and touching the Vietnam wall with 58,195 names on it were all important for him.

For me, it was the schools and the children who sang and waved their flags with smiles, full of happiness. So innocent of why we have veterans, and what so many gave up, including their lives.

And then there was Arlington: 624 acres and 400,000 graves, adding more each day. Standing in line behind the 18 wheelers along with 70,000 others, hoping to get a wreath or two to lay on graves if we were lucky. You kneel at the grave, place a wreath, straighten the bow and say their name. A soldier dies twice: when they take their last breath, and when their name is spoken for the last time. Every year that soldier’s name will be spoken, as long as Wreaths Across America is there.

The weather on wreath laying day maybe warm, it could be raining with black ice, or just windy and cold, but we all leave with the feeling, ‘good job, well done.’

If you would like to confirm that Patriotism is alive and well in this country, don’t just say you would like to go. GO!”

Anyone interested in participating in the local WAA Convoy stop should arrive at the Lincoln Academy gym between 2:30 and 3 pm on Sunday, December 8. Parking is available in all LA parking lots, but will be inaccessible once the Convoy arrives at 3:45. There will be a 45 minute program of performance, remembrance, and presenting wreaths to honor local veterans.

The Wreaths Across America Convoy will drive through downtown Damariscotta and Newcastle between 3:30 and 3:45 pm, and well-wishers are encouraged to greet the vehicles as they drive down Main Street.

Organizations partnering with Wreaths Across America and Lincoln Academy for the December 8 event include: the American Legion, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, the Damariscotta Police Department, Lincoln County First Responders, Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency, the CLC YMCA, South Bristol School, Great Salt Bay School, Nobleboro Central School, Renys, Hannaford, Old Time Donuts, Atlantic Tent Company, Coastal Kids Preschool, Midcoast Dance Studio, and many others.

Please note that all times are subject to change based on weather and traffic. The Convoy tries to stay on schedule but changes are inevitable. For more information about the Convoy stop please email Lincoln Academy Dean of Students Jake Abbott at jabbott@lincolnacademy.org.