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National Wreaths Across America Day, Dec. 17: Remembering our fallen veterans during the holidays

Source image: https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/national-wreaths-across-america-day-dec-17-remembering-veterans-holidays

Preparations have been underway for the annual tradition of honoring America’s fallen veterans at holiday time — with National Wreaths Across America Day coming up fast already, on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.

The nonprofit Wreaths Across America helps family members, friends, neighbors and volunteers all across the country lay wreaths at the gravestones of those who have served our country. 

The holiday tradition of honoring America’s lost veterans will take place not only at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia — but at over 3,500 locations across the U.S. and worldwide in 2022.

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Wreaths Across America continues to grow year after year — and it ships millions of wreaths to thousands of locations all around the world. 

“This year we’ve seen extreme growth,” Amber Caron, communications director, told Fox News Digital in a phone interview, expressing excitement about the growth of the meaningful gesture toward America’s fallen veterans. 

Wreaths are shown at the foot of headstones in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, during a recent December. Volunteers and families place thousands of remembrance wreaths on headstones across the cemetery — and at thousands of other locations — on National Wreaths Across America Day each year.

Wreaths are shown at the foot of headstones in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, during a recent December. Volunteers and families place thousands of remembrance wreaths on headstones across the cemetery — and at thousands of other locations — on National Wreaths Across America Day each year.
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Over 500 new locations have signed up to participate in National Wreaths Across America Day,” she said.

“Location,” she explained, can refer to any cemetery in which veterans are buried, a memorial, a town square whose residents want to host a ceremony — or some other site where veterans are honored, respected and remembered. 

There is no cost to become a participating location and host a Wreaths Across America ceremony.

“Basically, they’re saying, ‘We want to bring the mission to remember our veterans'” — and any participating, registered locations, said Caron, “will automatically receive eight ceremonial wreaths” from Wreaths Across America as part of the holiday remembrance  

Each of those wreaths stands for a branch of the military, plus for POWs and MIAs. 

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“For us,” she said, “it’s exciting because people who participate [at one site] then often want to bring the event to their own communities” the following year.

A child is shown carrying a wreath to a grave during the Wreaths Across America annual event at Arlington National Cemetery, on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Arlington, Virginia. 

A child is shown carrying a wreath to a grave during the Wreaths Across America annual event at Arlington National Cemetery, on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Arlington, Virginia. 
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“And that’s how this continues to grow.”

There is no cost to become a participating location and host a Wreaths Across America ceremony.

Caron noted, “There is a lot of tough stuff going on in the country and in the world. And it goes to show that — no matter what your background is, or your beliefs are — most people can agree on this: Our veterans are worthy of honoring. Their families are worthy of honoring. And it’s important during this holiday season to take time out to say ‘thank you.’”

All year long, Wreaths Across America does work for living veterans as well — to “remember, honor and teach” people about veterans’ dedication to our country.

Caron also said they’re bringing in new groups each year and working with new partners and different organizations.

She also emphasized that all year long, Wreaths Across America does work for living veterans as well — to “remember, honor and teach” people across the country about our veterans and their dedication to the country. 

“There are many ways for people to be involved all year ’round,” she said.

VIRGINIA NAVY VETERAN SAYS ALL VETERANS DESERVE THANKS, NOT JUST THOSE WHO SAW BATTLE

Participating organizations can raise money and funds for their veterans and their own work — “and those funds are making a difference” throughout the year, said Caron.  

Wreaths lay covered in snow next to markers at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on Jan. 6, 2015, after a small winter storm.  

Wreaths lay covered in snow next to markers at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on Jan. 6, 2015, after a small winter storm.  
(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

“In many homes, there is an empty seat for [a loved] one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” the organization notes on its website.

“There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We hope you will join us at any of our … participating locations to show our veterans and their families that we will not forget. We will never forget,” the organization also says.

“There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.”

Caron said that this year, Wreaths Across America is expecting some three million volunteers to come out nationally to lay wreaths at veterans’ graves and burial sites for the holidays on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022. 

Any VFW, American Legion or other organization that would like to help its own local veterans throughout the year — as well as participate in National Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 17, 2022 — can go to the nonprofit’s website at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org to learn more.

A veteran holds the hand of a child as they honor America's deceased veterans in a cemetery — with all gravesites adorned with a holiday wreath thanks to Wreaths Across America.

A veteran holds the hand of a child as they honor America’s deceased veterans in a cemetery — with all gravesites adorned with a holiday wreath thanks to Wreaths Across America.
(Wreaths Across America)

“It’s an event for the community — plus people can learn more about the veterans in their local community … and that includes the children. Kids can learn what veterans have done,” said Caron.

There is still plenty of time to sign up, by the way, for National Wreaths Across America Day this year. 

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Added Sean Sullivan, public relations manager for Wreaths Across America, “This organization started as just one family who wanted to make a kind gesture toward veterans at Arlington National Cemetery. And so many people loved the idea of what they were doing — and they were the ones who have grown this organization and built it to what it is today.”

He added, “It is really word of mouth” that has helped grow the group.

Karen Worcester is executive director of Wreaths Across America. She and her husband, Morrill Worcester, who founded the nonprofit organization, remain actively involved in WAA and its multitude of efforts to this day. 

Karen Worcester is executive director of Wreaths Across America. She and her husband, Morrill Worcester, who founded the nonprofit organization, remain actively involved in WAA and its multitude of efforts to this day. 
(Fox News)

The organization’s mobile education exhibit, by the way, starts its national tour in California in mid-January. 

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It’s a museum on wheels, essentially, the organization says. It has a small movie theater and exhibits and activities for kids, and operates as a “welcome home” unit for many veterans in America, especially Vietnam veterans who generally were not welcomed home and respected when they first returned from war.

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Morrill Worcester, founder of Wreaths Across America and owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine — his wife Karen Worcester, who is executive director — remain actively involved to this day.

Added Caron, “Morrill still donates all of the wreaths that go to all of the locations.”

For more information and to learn how to participate, anyone can visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/national-wreaths-across-america-day-dec-17-remembering-veterans-holidays

Politics

‘FASCISM’: Florida Dem lashes out at DeSantis for targeting group that hosted ‘Drag Queen Christmas’ with kids

A Democrat from the Florida Congressional delegation is taking aim at Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis over his decision to file a legal complaint against the institution responsible for hosting “A Drag Queen Christmas” event, which children were allowed to attend.

The governor filed a six-count legal complaint against the Orlando Philharmonic Foundation for “exposing minor children to lewd sexual acts during a drag show that took place in Orlando on December 28,” local outlet The Floridian reported Friday.

Responding to DeSantis’ complaint, which could result in the state revoking the institution’s liquor license, freshman Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla., accused to the governor of being a fascist.

“We’ve got to call this what it is: FASCISM in action. Queer celebration is anything but obscene,” Frost, who was elected to represent the Sunshine State’s 10th Congressional District in 2022, wrote in a tweet.

RON DESANTIS FILES LEGAL COMPLAINT AGAINST ORLANDO FOUNDATION FOR ALLEGEDLY SEXUALIZING KIDS WITH DRAG SHOW

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference on Jan. 26, 2023, in Miami.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference on Jan. 26, 2023, in Miami.
(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

“We cannot tolerate DeSantis and his attempt to erase our communities,” he added. “I wholeheartedly condemn this attack and remain in solidarity with our beautiful LGBTQ+ family in Orlando.”

Fox News Digital reported DeSantis opening an investigation into the December show last year for allegedly exposing children to “sexualized acts.”

The show featured sexually provocative content like displays of prosthetic breasts and genitalia, “portrayals of simulated masturbation,” as well as “sexualized adaptations of popular children’s Christmas songs” including one called “Screwdolph the Red-Nippled Reindeer,” according to Florida’s complaint.

The event was held at the Broward Center of the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale and held as part of the national tour of “A Drag Queen Christmas.”

At the time, DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin confirmed the administration’s investigation. In a statement published last year, Griffin said: “The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is aware of multiple complaints about a sexually explicit performance marketed to children held in Fort Lauderdale on December 26th. The Department is actively investigating this matter.”

FLORIDA AG INVESTIGATING DRAG SHOW FOR EXPOSING KIDS TO ‘SEXUALIZED ACTS’: WE WILL ‘NOT SIT BACK’

The Floridian’s Friday report provided the latest developments in the investigation, claiming DeSantis has filed the six-count charge through the DBPR.

Florida Gov Ron DeSantis is going after an event venue for holding a drag queen show that allegedly showed lewd and lascivious acts to children in the audience.

Florida Gov Ron DeSantis is going after an event venue for holding a drag queen show that allegedly showed lewd and lascivious acts to children in the audience.
(Florida DBPR /Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The official complaint claimed, “On December 28, 2022, Respondent hosted and supported a ticketed event titled ‘A Drag Queen Christmas’ (‘the Show’) on the Licensed Premises and sold alcoholic beverages to patrons in attendance. Respondent promoted the Show using targeted, Christmas-themed promotional materials that did not provide notice to the sexually explicit nature of the Show’s performances or other content.”

The complaint also charged that the show provided “promotional materials” that “unequivocally stated ‘[a]ll ages welcome.’”

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Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at an election night party on Nov. 8, 2022, as his wife Casey listens.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at an election night party on Nov. 8, 2022, as his wife Casey listens.
(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell))

In addition, the administration claimed that, “prior to the show,” it “sent a letter to Respondent notifying Respondent that ‘[s]exually explicit drag show performances constitute public nuisances, lewd activity, and disorderly conduct when minors are in attendance’” and warned that if it failed to keep minors away from the show it would be “subject to penalties up to and including revocation” of its liquor and tobacco license.

The complaint charged that the foundation “nevertheless allowed minors to attend the Show,” despite the warning.

Fox News’ Gabriel Hays contributed to this article.

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Politics

California reverses COVID vaccine requirement for students as it ends Newsom emergency declaration

California officials confirmed Friday that children will not be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to attend schools. 

Nearly all restrictions put in place by Gov. Gavin Newsom have been lifted and the state’s coronavirus emergency declaration officially ends on Feb. 28.

However, the policy – first put in place in 2021 – had come from the Department of Public Health and was not impacted by the emergency declaration lifting. 

The department told Fox News Digital in an emailed statement on Saturday morning that COVID-19 immunization is an important tool for keeping kids healthy and schools open and that it strongly recommends vaccination against the disease, noting that it had contributed to keeping children there in school. 

“The state’s SMARTER Plan continues to provide an adequate framework to address the current COVID-19 situation, and has led to the decision to end the COVID-19 State of Emergency on February 28, 2023,” the department explained. “As such, CDPH is not currently exploring emergency rulemaking to add COVID-19 vaccinations to the list of required school vaccinations, but we continue to strongly recommend COVID-19 immunization for students and staff to keep everyone safer in the classroom. Any changes to required K-12 immunizations are properly addressed through the legislative process.”

It also noted that mobile vaccination services remain available for any K-12 school in California. 

FILE - Johnny Thai, 11, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a pediatric vaccine clinic for children ages 5 to 11 set up at Willard Intermediate School in Santa Ana, California, Nov. 9, 2021.

FILE – Johnny Thai, 11, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a pediatric vaccine clinic for children ages 5 to 11 set up at Willard Intermediate School in Santa Ana, California, Nov. 9, 2021.
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

KENTUCKY GOV. BESHEAR SAYS EXPANDED COVID MEDICAID COVERAGE SOON TO END

California was the first state to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. 

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Nurse Eliane McGhee prepares COVID-19 booster shot during the Los Angeles Comic Con at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Dec 2, 2022. 

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Nurse Eliane McGhee prepares COVID-19 booster shot during the Los Angeles Comic Con at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Dec 2, 2022. 
(Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

CALIFORNIA DA CALLS NEWSOM A ‘MENACE TO PUBLIC SAFETY’ IN ESCALATING WAR OF WORDS OVER POLICE OFFICER’S DEATH

Most states did not follow California’s lead when it came to instituting a vaccine mandate for public schools

Students in the Exploring Computer Science class listen to Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho, Los Angeles Unifed School District, while Carvalho tours Maywood Center For Enriched Studies Magnet school, Feb. 16, 2022, in Maywood, California.

Students in the Exploring Computer Science class listen to Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho, Los Angeles Unifed School District, while Carvalho tours Maywood Center For Enriched Studies Magnet school, Feb. 16, 2022, in Maywood, California.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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However, schools in the District of Columbia plan to require the vaccine starting in the fall. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Politics

Chinese spy balloon raises alarm bells over China buying up US land

A Chinese balloon craft floating over the northern United States has re-energized concerns among experts and lawmakers over China’s ongoing efforts to buy land across the U.S., with some voices observing a “pattern” of suspected espionage activities near American military sites.

China on Friday confirmed the balloon is Chinese, claiming it’s a civilian research craft that was blown far off course by prevailing winds. However, Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder described the craft during briefings on Thursday and Friday as a high-altitude surveillance balloon.

“Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years,” said Ryder. “Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”

The suspected spy balloon was spotted over Montana, home to one of the nation’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Map shows approximate path of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over Montana, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

Map shows approximate path of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over Montana, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.
(Fox News)

CHINESE SPY BALLOON OVER CENTRAL US, WILL BE IN US AIRSPACE FOR ‘A FEW DAYS,’ PENTAGON SAYS

U.S. officials have previously warned about Chinese companies, such as the telecommunications giant Huawei, purchasing land near critical infrastructure in Montana and potentially capturing sensitive information regarding intercontinental ballistic missiles under the direction of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Base.

“Set against that destructive power is a completely serene and wide-open landscape. It’s just wheat fields and big sky country,” FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in 2021 while describing a trip to the base two years earlier. “Except for one thing: There are cell towers all around those Montana missile fields that have been running on Huawei equipment.”

The Chinese surveillance balloon has prompted Montana lawmakers to push for a ban on Chinese agricultural land purchases in the state.

“This really shows that there are nations out there that want to spy on us. Senate Bill 203 prevents those adversarial nations from purchasing our ag production land and our critical infrastructure,” Montana state Sen. Ken Bogner told local outlet KTQV. “The Ag production land hits issues of food security — we help feed the entire nation. And the critical infrastructure is things like oil refineries, telecommunication facilities. So, it’s a plethora of things to make sure that we’re protected as much as we can be here in the state.”

More broadly, experts told Fox News Digital that the balloon is indicative of a larger Chinese espionage effort. 

Gordon Chang told Fox News Digital that China is preparing its citizens for war

Gordon Chang told Fox News Digital that China is preparing its citizens for war
(Fox News)

CHINA EXPERT SOUNDS ALARM ON SPY BALLOON HOVERING OVER US: ‘IT’S VERY DANGEROUS WHAT THEY’RE DOING’

“China has stepped up its espionage activities against sensitive military facilities,” said Gordan Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War.” “This is clearly part of a pattern.”

Last summer, the Chinese company Fufeng Group, a food manufacturer, made headlines for purchasing 370 acres of land in Grand Forks, N.D., some 15 miles away from Grand Forks Air Force, a center for both air and space operations.

The Air Force this week denied Fufeng Group its building permits for a wet corn milling plant on the land, calling the project a “significant threat to national security.”

In Texas, meanwhile, a Chinese company owned by a former Chinese soldier with ties to the ruling Communist Party bought 130,000 acres near Laughlin Air Force Base, where pilots are trained.

Texas Republicans and Gov. Greg Abbott are seeking to ban Chinese citizens and businesses from buying property in the Lone Star State.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been outspoken about the threats posed by China's strategic land purchases in the U.S. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been outspoken about the threats posed by China’s strategic land purchases in the U.S. 
(Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

STEFANIK, ROUNDS LEAD BIPARTISAN BILL TO PREVENT CHINA, FOREIGN ADVERSARIES FROM BUYING INTO US AGRICULTURE

Florida and Virginia are among other states where leaders have been backed similar bans.

“Whether this is actually part of plan or not, these purchases are suspiciously close to sensitive military facilities and therefore shouldn’t be allowed,” said Chang.

He argued that until the U.S. gets a hold of these suspicious activities on agricultural land, the U.S. needs to institute a prohibition on Chinese land purchases.

“No Chinese entity should own farm or ranch land in U.S., full stop, including land involved in food processing,” said Chang. “Chinese parties that own this land should either have it expropriated with compensation or, if there was criminal activity, forfeiture statues should be used to take it away.”

Beyond the states, lawmakers at the federal level have also been pushing to crack down on Chinese entities buying U.S. land.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., has introduced legislation to bar China from purchasing U.S. farmland 

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., has introduced legislation to bar China from purchasing U.S. farmland 
(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

AFTER CHINESE BALLOON ENTERS US AIRSPACE, BIDEN SECRETARY OF STATE POSTPONES TRIP TO CHINA

In the Senate, Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced legislation that would blacklist China and other “foreign adversaries” from investing in, purchasing, or otherwise acquiring land or businesses involved in agriculture.

In the House, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Dan Newhouse (D-Wash.) introduced similar legislation to block China from purchasing American farmland.

“As more reports come in, it is becoming apparent the Chinese Communist Party is deliberately testing how the United States will respond to their provocative actions,” Newhouse told Fox News Digital. “This is yet another example of their alarming aggression. President Biden must act swiftly to confront this situation.”

“As a member of the House Select Committee on China,” he continued, “I am eager to further investigate the aggressive actions of the CCP and seek avenues to hold them accountable.”

Rodgers’ office echoed those sentiments and the need to remain vigilant.

“The situation unfolding is worrisome. The congresswoman believes that under no circumstances should an aircraft operated by the Chinese government be flying in American airspace conducting surveillance,” said Rodgers spokesman Kyle VonEnde. “She continues to monitor the situation closely and is grateful to the servicemen and women of Fairchild Air Force Base, whose swift response once again demonstrates just how vital their strategic mission is to keeping our skies safe from adversaries in the Pacific arena.”

Both bills were introduced this week not long before the Chinese surveillance balloon became public.

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Several prominent Republicans called for President Biden to shoot down the Chinese balloon, while others demanded an intelligence briefing. Biden declined to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a trip to China following the controversy over the balloon

The Pentagon said Friday the craft doesn’t pose a military or physical threat to people on the ground but continues to track its movement.

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