100,000 wreaths headed to Arlington National Cemetery
Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 8:03 pm
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Twenty years ago, wreath company owner Morrill Worcester and a dozen other people laid 5,000 wreaths on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. It was Worcester’s way of giving thanks to the nation’s veterans with leftover unsold wreaths.
This year, Worcester has arranged for up to 100,000 wreaths to be placed on gravesites at the military cemetery Dec. 10 in his biggest wreath-laying undertaking yet.
A convoy of more than 20 trucks left Worcester Wreath Co. in the eastern Maine town of Harrington on Sunday to begin the six-day journey to the cemetery in Arlington, Va., outside Washington, the final resting place for hundreds of thousands of veterans and a tourist site that draws 4 million visitors a year. Along the way, there’ll be ceremonies at schools, veterans’ homes and in communities in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.
Worcester never expected the wreath-laying effort to grow from a single tractor-trailer carrying a few thousand wreaths to 84 big rigs delivering wreaths to Arlington and hundreds of locations. Besides the Arlington ceremony, his Wreaths Across America organization has also organized more than 700 other ceremonies at veterans’ cemeteries and monuments across the country and overseas involving 225,000 wreaths.
“We haven’t really tried to push it; it’s really just grown on its own,” Worcester said. “We have a hard time keeping up with it.”
Worcester, who has never served in the military, came up with the idea of a wreath-laying ceremony 20 years ago when he found himself with an extra 5,000 wreaths in December, too late to bring to market. He decided upon Arlington National Cemetery, which he had visited as a child.
Published in The Messenger 12.7.11