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Wreaths Across America: Remembering veterans’ lives, not their deaths

REMEMBER. HONOR. TEACH.

Remember our fallen U.S. veterans

Honor those who serve

Teach your children the value of freedom

By Liz Johnson/Staff Writer

Living 50-Plus, Nov. 22, 2016

Wreaths Across America provides seven wreaths for presentation at the wreath-laying ceremony every year. Each wreath represents a branch of the U.S. military service. A member of the each military branch, a veteran or family member, presents the wreath, which is placed at the front of the Committal Chapel at the Missouri State Veteran Cemetery in Higginsville. (Submitted photo)

Wreaths Across America provides seven wreaths for presentation at the wreath-laying ceremony every year. Each wreath represents a branch of the U.S. military service. A member of the each military branch, a veteran or family member, presents the wreath, which is placed at the front of the Committal Chapel at the Missouri State Veteran Cemetery in Higginsville. (Submitted photo)

Wreaths Across America owes its humble beginnings to the inspiration of a Maine man’s trip to Washington, D.C. as a 12-year-old boy.

Morrill Worcester, now the owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, visited Arlington National Cemetery while visiting D.C. when he was 12. The impression the veterans cemetery left on Worcester was never far from his mind and would, in 1992, rise to the surface through his wreath company when he found he had a surplus of wreaths at the end of the holiday season.

Maine Senator Olympia Snowe helped Worcester make arrangements to place the wreaths at Arlington Cemetery in an older section that had fewer visits to the graves each year.

As the two made their plans, others stepped up to help. A local Maine trucking company owned by James Prout provided the transportation to Virginia. Volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW posts got together with members of the community to decorate each wreath with red hand-tied bows. Members of the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. assisted in organizing the laying of the wreaths, culminating in a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Worcester continued his yearly work in providing wreaths to Arlington very quietly until a photo of the wreaths laid against the headstones, surrounded by snow, hit the internet in 2005 and went viral. The project then became the focus of thousands.

The wreath project continued to grow, far out of the reach of Worcester’s wreath company. As states joined the project, Worcester sent seven wreaths to those states – one for each branch of the service, as well as for POWs and MIAs. Patriot Guard riders began volunteering to escort the wreaths as they traveled to Arlington.

The complete story is in the Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 Richmond News.

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