90-year-old veteran creates a hand-carved legacy for future generations

On Saturday, August 6, Alan Johnston, U.S. Army veteran and commander for the Maine Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars, led the dedication of a hand-carved wood eagle to Wreaths Across America’s founder Morrill Worcester, as part of the organization’s annual Stem to Stone event in Downeast Maine.

The eagle was carved by 90-year-old Navy veteran George Gunning and painted by his wife of 70 years, Donna, both of Windsor, as a gift of thanks to Worcester and all those who carry out the Wreaths Across America mission to remember the fallen, honor those that serve, and teach the next generation the value of freedom.

Over the last 15-plus years, the Gunnings have made more than 4,000 hand-carved and painted wooden, eagle-headed canes to donate to Maine veterans as an extension of the Eagle Cane Project started in Oklahoma. They do it as a labor of love for all those who served our country. The Gunnings were moved to create this larger eagle sculpture after learning more about the Wreaths Across America program and the impact it has had on veterans and their families across the country.

As part of the dedication, Johnston presented George and Donna a $1,000 check from the Maine Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars. A $1,000 donation was also presented by Johnston to Wreaths Across America Volunteer Location Coordinator for Togus National Cemetery, Deborah Couture, to sponsor veterans wreaths to be placed there this December as part of National Wreaths Across America Day – scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.

Wreaths Across America is the nonprofit organization best known for placing wreaths on veterans’ headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. However, in 2021, the organization placed more than 2.4 million sponsored veterans’ wreaths at over 3,100 participating locations nationwide. Throughout the calendar year you can tune in to Wreaths Across America Internet Radio, 24/7, to learn more about the mission and those who support it across the country, as well as the hundreds of local charitable efforts nationwide that are funded through wreath sponsorships.

You can sponsor a veteran’s wreath anytime for $15 at www.wreathacrossamerica.org. Each sponsorship goes toward a live, balsam wreath that will be placed on the headstone of an American hero as we endeavor to honor all veterans laid to rest, at noon on Saturday, December 18, 2021, as part of National Wreaths across America Day.


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