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Wreaths Across America: OOIDA to honor veterans

As a solemn tribute to veterans who have served and sacrificed to preserve the nation’s freedom, OOIDA is sponsoring 10 wreaths to be placed on graves this month in Arlington National Cemetery.

“We are honored to take part in remembering these men and women for what they sacrificed,” said OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston. “We can never show them enough respect or enough gratitude.”

About 37 percent of OOIDA’s 153,000-plus membership are veterans.

The wreaths sponsored by OOIDA membership were placed on graves at Arlington on Dec. 11 as part of the program known as Wreaths Across America.

That program coordinates laying holiday wreaths on the graves of thousands of veterans. It began as one man’s patriotic deed and in the past 19 years has grown into a national movement.

In 1992, Morrill Worcester, owner of the Worcester Wreath Co., in Harrington, ME, found himself with enough leftover holiday greenery to make 5,000 wreaths. With the help of U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe from Maine, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery.

In 2005, James Varheghyi, Air Force Press Corp, snapped a stunning photo of the hundreds of soldiers’ grave stones adorned with simple greenery wreaths and red ribbons, covered in snow. When it hit the Internet, the project to honor fallen soldiers captured national attention. It spurred the creation of “Wreaths Across America.”

This year, Worcester Wreath Co., donated 20,000 Maine balsam fir wreaths.

Along with wreaths from the Worcester Wreath Co., thousands of individuals, families and businesses now sponsor wreaths, taking the tradition beyond Arlington to more than 425 participating cemeteries and memorials, including Puerto Rico and 24 overseas locations. LL