LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – In a tradition that started in 1992 by Morrill Worcester, people all across the country will place wreaths on veteran gravesites this year to remember those who died and honor their service. On Wreaths Across America Day on December 17th, there will be a ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony, at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan and other cemeteries across the country. The wreaths will be at more than 3,400 additional locations in all 50 states and abroad.
Those who want to sponsor a wreath or volunteer to place wreaths can sign up at the national website.
The national website says, “When a volunteer places a wreath on a veteran’s grave on National Wreaths Across America Day, we encourage them to speak that veteran’s name aloud, thank them for their service and sacrifice and reflect on that person and their life.”
The tradition was started by founder, Morrill Worcester, who won a trip to Washington DC when he was 12-years-old. His visit to the Arlington National Cemetery made a huge impression on him and he remembered the sacrifices that the soldiers made for him and the rest of the country.
In 1992, Worcester Wreath had a surplus of wreaths at the end of the holiday season. Morrill Worcester, with the help of Maine Senator, Olympia Snowe, had wreaths placed in one of the older sections of the cemetery that wasn’t getting many visitors.
Other organizations stepped up to help, including a trucking company to transport the wreaths and volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW posts to decorate the wreaths. Members of the Maine State Society of Washington DC helped organize the wreath-laying and the special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The yearly event went mostly unnoticed until 2005 when a photo of one of the wreaths at Arlington circulated around the internet. Soon, everyone wanted to get involved with the program, including many who wanted similar events at their own cemeteries.
Worcester was unable to donate that many wreaths so he sent seven wreaths to every state, one for each branch of the military and for POW/MIAs. In 2006, there were simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 150 locations across the United States. The event got bigger than just the one wreath company and so in 2007, the Worcester family, along with veterans and other individuals and groups, formed the non-profit organization Wreaths Across America.