WAA Chairman of the Board Wayne Hanson, who chaired the selection committee, spoke about Mrs. Fritcher’s community efforts at the nonprofit’s annual weekend event held in the Downeast region of Maine, where it is headquartered.
“We try to honor special individuals and organizations who are committed to honoring our nation’s fallen heroes,” said Hanson. “National Wreaths Across America Day is an event, but Wreaths Across America is a year-round mission. It is the heartfelt efforts of individuals like Nancy, who make it their personal mission to serve those who have sacrificed for our freedoms.”
Nancy has been a strong supporter of WAA, a teacher of the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach, and an active participant in the program at Woodlawn Cemetery for many years. In previous years, as a Girl Scout troop leader, Nancy led two of her cadets to earn the Girl Scout Silver Award. The scouts researched and taught about the four Medal of Honor Recipients buried at Woodlawn Cemetery while cleaning headstones and preparing QR-coded information about these veterans. The scouts presented to the public during a WAA Mobile Education event. In teaching about their service, she also taught her scouts the importance of remembering their families that often are left at home worrying about their loved ones.
In that spirit, this past year, she put together a surprise for a military mom by reuniting her with her Navy and Marine sons after the passing of her husband. As a result of her thoughtful efforts, this family was able to spend the holidays together. Nancy truly embodies the WAA mission.
“It’s always wonderful to spend time working on behalf of our nation’s veterans,” said Mrs. Fritcher. “Thank you to everyone that I have worked with and volunteered with over the years. I am humbled to receive this award and will continue to be committed to helping Honor our great nation’s veterans. Thank you to Wreaths Across America and our nation’s veterans!”
Other 2023 awards recipients honored by WAA include:
REMEMBER Award: Given to an individual or group who REMEMBERS the fallen and their sacrifice in a way that goes above and beyond. This year’s recipient is Patricia A. Jones of Cannelton, Ind.
Ms. Jones is the executive director of the local Cannelton Food Pantry, and is a granddaughter, daughter, wife, and mother of United States Veterans. Fifteen years ago, her tireless commitment to our nation’s veterans commenced a personal gravesites photography and documentation effort for the Find-Grave website. Ten years ago, she attended gravestone restoration classes and has since cleaned and repaired countless gravestones. She, along with the help of her grandson, have located, marked, and documented ‘lost’ cemeteries. She has placed memorials and plaques on veteran graves, and places flags and flowers in celebration of their service on related holidays. Ms. Jones also spearheads the Wreaths Across America program in her community.
TEACH Award: Given annually to an individual or group who has made a large contribution to TEACHING the next generation to Remember and Honor those who serve in our nation’s military. This year’s recipient is retired educator Cathy Pagano of Woodlawn Park, N.J.
Cathy Pagano retired after 40 years of serving as a history teacher. Since her retirement, she has become very involved with her Woodland Park community and its youth. Her community work revolves around teaching students the importance of respecting and honoring our nation’s veterans.
LEARN Award: Given semi-annually to a young individual who has learned and understands the Wreaths Across America mission and incorporates it into their young life. This year’s recipient is 13-year-old Zackariah VanGilder of Morgantown, W. Va.
Zackariah has faithfully devoted the last eight years to the WAA mission. He has served in every capacity, from trash collection and clean-up to learning to play taps on the saxophone. His enthusiasm for the program, coupled with his leadership by example, has helped to create a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
This year, National Wreaths Across America Day will be held on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. It is a free event, open to all people. Click here to find a local participating cemetery near you to support go to and type in your town and/or state. For more information or to find a participating cemetery near you, please visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.