In solemn ceremonies that took place at more than 400 locations worldwide on Saturday, Dec. 12, 20-inch live balsam wreaths with red ribbon were placed on U.S. military graves. The numbers aren’t in yet, but it’s estimated that more than 100,000 wreaths were placed.
Most of those wreaths were transported by trucking companies and owner-operators who volunteered equipment and time to honor the nation’s fallen soldiers.
Wreaths were placed on memorials and cemeteries in all 50 states, from Maine to Alaska to Hawaii, at several locations is Iraq, and at 24 national cemeteries on foreign soil.
Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Harrington, ME. The wreath project was formed as an extension of the Arlington Wreath Project. The project’s stated purpose is to “remember the fallen, honor those who serve and to teach our children the value of freedom.”
TheArlington Wreath program was started by Morrill Worcester in 1992, president of Worcester Wreath Company. In that year, he donated excess wreaths for 5,000 Christmas wreaths for graves at Arlington National Cemetery. This became an annual event for Worcester, but the project remained low-key until 2005.
That year, a photo of the graves at Arlington adorned with wreaths and covered in snow circulated around the Internet. The project received national attention, and thousands of requests came from all over the country from people wanting to institute the Arlington project in their communities.
In 2006, with the help of the Civil Air Patrol and other civic organizations, more than 150 locations held wreath laying ceremonies simultaneously.
By 2008, more than 300 locations were holding wreath-laying ceremonies. There were Wreaths Across America ceremonies last year in every state, in Puerto Rico and in 24 overseas cemeteries. More than 100,000 wreaths were placed on veterans’ graves. According to Worcester, more than 60,000 volunteers participated.
The Patriot Guard Riders and other support groups accompanied the wreaths as they were distributed across the country.
Congress has officially proclaimed the second Saturday in December as Wreaths Across America Day.
– By Land Line staff
Other Land Line stories on this event:
Wreaths will begin journey on Sunday
List of volunteer truckers grows for wreath hauling
'Wreaths Across America' honors America's fallen soldiers