One man’s dream keeps building and growing over time
Published: January 17, 2008 | 6921st good news item since 2003
Yes, one man can make a diference.
In what began in 1992 as one man’s dream and a heartfelt gesture, Worcester Wreath Co. initiated the Arlington National Cemetery project – donating more than 5,000 wreaths each year to adorn the headstones of our fallen veterans.
It begins with a hand-made wreath, but Worcester Wreath President Morrill Worcester is quick to remind everyone who will listen, that “it takes a lot of hands and a lot of hearts to make this happen each year.” “It is our way of giving something back,,” he said, “because without the sacrifices of our Veterans, and their families, we wouldn’t be in a position to do any of this.
The Arlington Project and Wreaths Across America is about the spirit of appreciation for what we have, and a determination to give something back.”
The Wreaths Across America story began over 16 years ago when Worcester Wreath Co. (a commercial business from Harrington, Maine) began a tradition of placing wreaths on the headstones of our nation’s fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery.
Worcester Wreath and its involvement with the Arlington project was actually born in the heart of a 12 year-old boy. When as a Bangor Daily News paper boy, Morrill Worcester won a trip to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. It was a trip he would never forget. Arlington National Cemetery made an indelible impression. In later life, he recognized that his success as a businessman was in large part, because of the values of this nation and the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
In 1992, the wreath company found itself with an excess of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Seeing an opportunity to make a boyhood dream a reality, efforts to do something special with those wreaths began in earnest. With the help of U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery, a section which received fewer visitors with each passing year.
With plans underway, a number of other participants began their support for the project. James Prout, owner of 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 signature red, hand-tied bows. Member of the Maine State Society of Washington, DC and John Metzler Jr. Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery worked to organize the wreath-laying, including the incorporation of a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Now 16 years and more than 70,000 wreaths later, the original group has been joined by many others who participate in the project each year. After learning of the annual trek to Arlington to honor the nation’s fallen heroes, Larry Ross, an elementary school teacher from Canaan, Maine, has taken several groups ofhis students to help with the wreath-laying.
The Maine Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, under the guidance and leadership of Majs. Wayne Merritt and Dennis Murray, also participated in the annual event during the past several years. Each student group conducts fundraising events throughout the year to make the trip.
During the past 16 years, Worcester Wreath has donated 75,000 wreaths that were placed by volunteers in a wreath-laying ceremony each December. This year, Worcester Wreath Co. did even more to show its respect and appreciation for those who serve, by doing the following:
• Doubling its annual donation to 10,000 wreaths destined for Arlington National Cemetery.
• In addition to the Arlington Wreath Project, Worcester Wreath donated 2,500 wreaths to the Maine Veterans Cemetery at Togus, and more than 1,800 ceremonial wreaths, representing all branches of the armed forces, were sent to more than 200 other state and national veterans cemeteries across the country.
• For the first time in 2007, ceremonial wreaths were also donated to 24 veterans cemeteries on foreign soil, and aboard U.S. ships sailing in all seven seas.
• All wreath-laying ceremonies were held concurrently on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. CST.
• And lastly, 51 wreaths were donated for a special wreath-laying ceremony at each state Capitol and a 36-inch ceremonial wreath for our nation’s capital on Monday, Dec. 10.
Worcester Wreath Co. is by far the largest donor to the Wreaths Across America project. It is a vision that we, as a nation, will one day honor every veterans’ memory for the holidays, as a way to show gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices made to preserve our freedoms.
Note: the editor is not a US citizen or inhabitant but remains grateful for the liberation by allied forces