Today marks the 26th year that Wreaths Across America volunteers will spend their day placing wreaths on U.S. military veteran’s graves across this country, including at Arlington National Cemetery.
Started by Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Maine, Wreaths Across America has grown into a collaborative effort between the volunteers of the organization, those donating their time to lay wreaths, and trucking industry partners and drivers, many of whom donate their time and equipment to transport the wreaths to locations around the country.
In 2016, 172 trucking companies and drivers participated in the effort, according to the organization.
According to Wreaths Across America, it was Morrill who started the tradition very quietly in 1992 when his company had a surplus of holiday wreaths. Working with Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, Morrill arranged for the excess wreaths to be placed on stones in Arlington.
“As plans were underway, a number of other individuals and organizations stepped up to help,” the organization writes. “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.”
It wasn’t until 2005 when a photo of snow-covered stones adorned with wreaths went viral on the internet, the effort gained national attention.
“Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington, to emulate the Arlington project at their National and State cemeteries, or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for honoring our nation’s heroes,” the group says.
Wreaths Across America could only become the national event it has become because of the generosity of the trucking industry, and the hundreds of drivers each year that move the wreaths.
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