(Portions reprinted with permission)
Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, was a 12- year-old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to Washington, D.C. His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career in business, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s Veterans. With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery, a section which had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.
As plans were underway, a number of other individuals and organizations stepped up to help. James Prout, owner of local trucking company Blue Bird Ranch, Inc., generously provided transportation all the way to Virginia. Volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW Posts gathered with members of the community to decorate each wreath with traditional red, hand-tied bows. Members of the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. helped to organize the wreath-laying, which included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The annual tribute went on quietly for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet. Suddenly, the project received national attention. Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington and to emulate the event in their local community.
Wreaths Across America is now a nationwide initiative and under the program, wreaths are now placed at more than 900 veterans’ cemeteries, memorials and other locations around the country.
On December 12, 2015, Navy Wives Clubs of America Totem Chapter 227 will be hosting the National Wreaths Across America Day. Local Edmonds artist, Marine Corps veteran and founder of the Fallen Heroes Project Michael Reagan will be speaking at the event.
All are welcome to attend and are invited to take part in the ceremony by sponsoring wreaths that will be laid on the tombstones of the fallen.
Bottom Line: Mark your calendars for Dec. 12 to take part in this memorable event. For more information and to sponsor wreaths, visit this link.
— By Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.