ARLINGTON, Va. — Thousands of volunteers will fan out across the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 18 to place wreaths at the gravesites of our fallen heroes. The remembrance is part of the annual Wreaths Across America Day. The goal is to place wreaths at nearly 247,000 grave markers at Arlington.
On Dec. 11, a caravan will begin the trip from Maine to northern Virginia, with tractor-trailers carrying thousands of wreaths destined for Arlington. The convoy will include veterans, volunteers and Gold Star families. Law enforcement agencies will provide an escort.
Organizers trace the beginnings of this annual tribute to 1992. Morrill Worcester, the owner of a wreath company in Maine, decided to send surplus wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery as a gesture of thanks to our veterans. Word got around, others stepped up to help and a tradition was born.
The number of wreaths and volunteers grew every year. In 2005, a photo of the wreaths placed at Arlington circulated on the internet and captured national attention. Organizers received requests from people across the country who wished to volunteer, donate or place wreaths at other sites.
In 2007, the Worcester family and other organizers formed the non-profit group Wreaths Across America.
This year, volunteers will place wreaths at more than 2,900 cemeteries and other sites across the country, at sea and abroad.
“For those who have had the opportunity to participate in the escort of wreaths over the years, it is truly an experience of a lifetime,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America. “The way we and the mission are welcomed into communities, with flags waving and streets lined with children and veterans, is something we always wished every American could witness.”
Events surrounding Wreaths Across America Day are free and open to the public. Volunteers who wish to place wreaths at Arlington will be required to preregister and show proof of registration on Wreath Day, Dec. 18.
For more information, or to preregister, visit the site here, www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/ARLING.