Father Judge High School loves to find ways to honor the 27 graduates who died during Vietnam defending the country.
And thanks to Nancy Henderson, mom of Judge senior baseball star Brooks Henderson, the team found a great way to do that.
Led by Henderson, the Crusaders baseball team took part in Wreaths Across America at Washington Crossing National Cemetery to honor veterans by laying Remembrance wreaths on the graves of veterans who died fighting for the United States.
“When my son was a freshman, he did it with some seniors, he just went along for the ride, we didn’t know much about it,” the shortstop’s mom said. “I called the organization and looked into it. It’s really a great way to honor the veterans. It’s special because it’s at Christmas and it’s a great cause.”
On Dec. 17, 42 people attended the event. It was cold, but after a couple of hours laying wreaths, 699 gravesites had a new decoration.
“It worked out great, I knew Father Judge has such a tight bond with the military, and this was just a very nice tie-in.
“I talked to the guy who ran it, I saw him leaving, and he said, ‘Thank you so much, Father Judge had 700 wreaths.’ Their goal is a wreath on every grave, they need those donations. They have 22,000 veterans. And they do a great job, making sure everyone has one.”
It was a special day for the parents, who were watching their children wake up early and do great service, but it also meant a lot to the players who were doing the work.
“I definitely knew how special it was, I knew when we did it before and I was happy to do it again,” said Brooks Henderson, who has been a top player in the Catholic League since his sophomore year. “Everybody wanted to do it. Nobody was reluctant to do it, everyone was happy. It was cold, but we wanted to do it. It’s a great cause.”
The Crusaders did a fine job laying the wreaths, and according to Nancy Henderson, the team will seek volunteers to go and remove the wreaths after the holidays.
“It worked out great,” she said. “Everyone at Father Judge was so supportive. It was a great day. It’s a great way to honor the veterans, and everyone was happy to take part.”
She was also quick to point out that many had a hand in this, not just the people who laid the wreaths.
Parent Steve Clark secured three large corporate sponsorships from the John F. Givnish Funeral Home ($450), Elliott-Lewis ($150), and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 ($150). Also, Father Judge teacher Sean Kelly secured a sponsorship from the Brigantine Elks No. 2428 ($500).