Militarily Speaking

Militarily Speaking

Ep. 17 Wreaths Across America with Michelle Cebe

November 16, 2022

Welcome to the "Militarily Speaking" podcast with Tom McLean and Jodi Vickery.

In this episode of “Militarily Speaking,” Tom, Jodi, and guest Michelle Cebe discuss Wreaths Across America. They discover the mission of the program, how to participate or sponsor wreaths, and what partnerships have enabled them to do.

“Militarily Speaking” is a podcast produced by Armed Forces Bank that is dedicated to the military lifestyle and all the things that makes military community who they are. 

Ep. 17 — Wreaths Across America with Michelle Cebe

Introducing Michelle Cebe and Wreaths Across America

Jodi introduces Michelle and her history with Wreaths Across America, and then asks her how the program got started.

  • Michelle tells the story of how Wreaths Across America got started.
  • She notes that it initially started with 5,000 wreaths in 1992 and now placed 2.4 Million wreaths across 3100 cemeteries including some abroad.
  • After prompting from Tom, Michelle discusses the founder’s childhood and why he chose to start this program.
  • Michelle adds that every year there is a theme, and this year’s is “Find a way to serve.”

Tom asks Michelle to talk about ‘The Greatest Generation’ and how it connects to the generation of hope.

  • Michelle discusses her personal experiences with volunteers for Wreaths Across America.
  • She says how they embodied the mission: Remember, Honor, Teach
  • Jodi adds how much of a treasure having those members must have been.

Participation and Sponsorships Wreaths Across America

Michelle asks how many years the Leavenworth National Cemetery has been participating in the program.

  • Michelle says that the National Cemetery joined in 2009, and Forth Leavenworth joined the following year.
  • Tom and Jodi discuss a few Armed Forces Bank employees have volunteered at the events.
  • After some discussion, Michelle adds that they will be up to 3500 locations where they will be putting out wreaths.
  • She notes the easiest way to find a participating cemetery is to go to their website locations page.
  • After realizing how close so many Armed Forces Bank locations are, Tom and Jodi encourage participation from their whole organization.

Tom asks what her passion for participating in the program.

  • Michelle shares her personal experience in how she found the program, her connection, and her reason behind continuing with it.
  • She also shares her story about how she became one of the coordinators.
  • She says that her goal is to have a wreath for every grave in Leavenworth National Cemetery, which is the site she is the location coordinator for.

Tom asks Michelle to explain how people can get involved through sponsorship or volunteering.

  • She says she has tried to get corporations to sponsor sections of cemeteries, and how they recognize those large sponsors.
  • Michelle then discusses some ideas they have used in the past to get sponsors.

Jodi asks for more details about the wreaths, the deadlines around the wreaths, and what day Leavenworth lays their wreaths.

  • She draws attention to the fact that the wreaths are not Christmas or holiday wreaths, rather they are specifically a Veterans Wreath, and then describes what that means.
  • She says that every location participates on the same day, which is the third Saturday in December - this year is December 17th.
  • She discusses some of the differences in the ceremonies between the different locations.
  • Michelle notes that the final deadline for sponsoring a wreath is usually the Monday after Thanksgiving, but they have extended it to Giving Tuesday, which is the following Tuesday - this year is November 29th.

Tom brings up their website again, and asks Michelle about a possible discount code.

  • Starting November 1, through until supplies run out, if you get merchandise with this year’s theme on it, you can get 25% off your entire purchase by using the code: FIND A WAY 2022

Wreaths Across America Partnerships

Tom asks about Wreaths Across America’s partnership with CGSC, and what they did a couple weeks ago.

  • Michelle talks about the mobile exhibit that has been traveling around the state of Kansas.
  • She discusses how the mobile exhibit is basically a museum on wheels, and what is included in that, including how they focus on Gold Star Families.
  • She continues by detailing the schedule for the mobile exhibit starting in 2023.

Tom then questions Michelle for more details on their partnership with Wreaths Across America Radio and the Veteran Radio program.

  • She discusses the Radio for Veterans, her previous interview with them, and some of the special programs they put on, such as Medal of Honor Monday.
  • She then talks about a number of their other shows and how they help Veterans.
  • She also tells the story of how they raised money to move a Medal of Honor recipient from potters field to Leavenworth National Cemetery.

Military Minute

Jodi introduces the Military Minute segment of the show, beginning by closing out last episode’s Military Minute.

  • Last episode’s Military Minute: What year was the inception of the school of applications for infantry and cavalry born?
  • Answer: 1881
  • This week’s Military Minute question: What year did the U.S. Congress unanimously vote to approve Wreaths Across America Day?
  • Watch for Facebook and Instagram posts about this episode.
  • Answer with the correct answer and you plus a charity of your choice can each win $50.

Tom closes the episode by asking listeners to go to and subscribe to the show, as well as leave a rating and comment on your favorite podcast platform such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify

Join us to hear how to better navigate your finances, military life, and the crossroads of the two.