Honoring Heroes Made Simple Via Texting Campaign Pilot
“He always wanted to be a soldier in the military, and that was his passion, but he was very respectful of our wishes. We encouraged him to go to college, but decided he needed to do what he wanted to do,” Chris shared about his son, Cpl. Peter Courcy, who spent a year in Afghanistan. “He was a gunner in the Army. They knew there were IED’s (improvised explosive devices) around, and they were slowing down near a bridge. There was a car parked along the side with someone inside who blew the car up.” That was two weeks before Peter was due to come home.
Chris explained a few weeks before Peter’s death in Afghanistan on February 10, 2009, he and his wife Mary welcomed baby Luke into the family. In life, Luke would never meet his brother, but Chris and his wife make sure he’s a part of remembering and honoring Peter for his service. “We really wanted Luke to grow up knowing his brother, and he’s never missed a Wreaths Across America event in 10 years,” Chris said. Chris is the Location Coordinator for Wreaths Across America at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery (DFW)in Texas. His is the perfect story of how the mission to remember, honor, and teach takes root and grows one veteran’s wreath sponsorship at a time. “When I realized back in 2009 no wreaths were being sponsored, and not every veteran was getting a wreath in Peter’s section of the cemetery, that’s when I decided this would be my mission. The first year we had about 250 wreaths sponsored, the next year, we were up to 900 for Peter’s section, and we just told people along the way over the years about what we do. Last year, we peaked out at about 28,000 wreaths, and as many as 6,000 attended the ceremony.” That’s tremendous growth, and there’s work yet to be done. 65,000 soldiers are buried at the DFW National Cemetery. One wreath will cover two columns of a columbarium, so the goal is 46,000 wreaths to honor every soldier at the cemetery.
Some of the folks who have been volunteering in wreath-laying ceremonies at DFW over the years approached Chris recently to ask how they could get more involved. “AT&T employees involved for the past two or three years as section leaders on Wreaths Day called and said, “Hey, we want a wreath for every soldier’s grave too, what can we do?” Chris explains that after a few meetings, they came up with the idea of a “Text-to-Donate” campaign.
Wreaths Across America is grateful for Chris, making this very exciting connection that allows us to offer a “Text-to-Donate” pilot project through AT&T Veterans and the Mobile Giving Foundation. It’s a fast and secure way of sponsoring a veteran’s wreath instantly by texting. The pilot project in 2019 will support wreath-laying efforts specifically at Dallas-Fort Worth National, Arlington National, and the Wreaths Across America general fund. A one-time donation of $15.00 will be added to your mobile phone bill. All donations must be authorized by the account holder- message & data rates may apply. You do not need to have AT&T as your cellular carrier to “Text-to-Donate” to Wreaths Across America; however, your local carrier may apply charges. If the “Text-to-Donate” pilot campaign is successful this year, it may expand to other regions in the years to come.
The theme for 2019 is Everyone Plays a Part. Chris says from their flyovers during the ceremony to cleanup, the volunteers who make the event possible at DFW are incredible. “Last year, we were able to pick up over 28,000 wreaths in an hour and fifteen minutes!”
You can hear more with Chris about Wreaths Across America at the Dallas-Fort Worth Cemetery as part of our “What’s Your Why?” volunteer series, and about our “Text-to-Donate” campaign on Wreaths Across America Radio.
One of Peter’s friends, John Bullis, went on to earn a degree in film. John dedicated his final semester to honoring Peter’s sacrifice. Peter’s family hopes you will watch the film and share it with your family. They are very proud of John’s efforts and happy to share the documentary. http://guardofhonor.weebly.com/guard-of-honor-documentary.html