Sacred ground: Wreath-laying planned for Saturday, Dec. 11

| 12/10/2010

More than 215,000 Maine balsam fir wreaths with red ribbon will be placed on the graves of America’s military veterans this weekend. In a massive united effort that grows exponentially each year, thousands of volunteers will lay the wreaths in four sections of Arlington National Cemetery and at 550 more locations.

There will be wreaths throughout every state, Puerto Rico and 24 other sites overseas. Wreaths will also be placed at sites to honor victims of 9/11.

At each of the 550 participating locations around the country, Wreaths Across America has designated volunteers who coordinate the wreath-laying events in their local communities.  Karen Worcester, Wreaths Across America executive director, commended the location leaders, volunteers and fundraising groups.

“They are the boots on the ground. Without them we would never be able to advance this mission,” she said.

The 2010 escort of holiday wreaths from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery and all points of the 500-plus participating locations began earlier this week. The wreaths were shipped from Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, ME, and moved by more than 50 tractor-trailers from volunteer companies.

With logistics handled by Barry Pottle of Pottle’s Transportation, trucks were volunteered by Baylor Trucking, Hartt Trucking, ATA Share the Road, Prime Inc, U.S. Express, FedEx, AAA Cooper, Allen Lund, Chapman Trucking, Cianbro Corp., Jagtrux Inc., Lapp USA, Perdue Trucking, Motor Carrier Services, Portland Air Freight, UPS, Ryder, Witte Brothers, Pottle’s Transportation and more.

Over the past few years, Walmart has contributed $375,000 in cash, donated $103,000 through in-kind transportation services, and delivered more than 160,000 wreaths. This year, Walmart trucks will deliver wreaths to Ground Zero in New York City, The Pentagon, Shanksville, PA (Flight 93 Memorial), Arlington National Cemetery and a number of state locations.

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders and others have provided escorts.

As a tribute to veterans who have served and sacrificed to preserve the nation’s freedom, OOIDA is sponsoring 10 wreaths. About 37 percent of OOIDA’s 153,000-plus members are veterans.

The Washington, DC, schedule for Saturday, Dec. 11, is for the trucks to arrive at Arlington at 7 a.m. This year, the wreaths will be placed in Sections 28, 38, 43 and also Section 60. Following the wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, a ceremony will be held at the Pentagon for those who died on 9/11. Other plans include a ceremony at the Women’s Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, Korean War Memorial – and at sunset the World War II memorial.