Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, was a 12 year old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to Washington D.C. His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career in business, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their Country.
In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s Veterans. With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery, a section which had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.
For more of the Arlington Story please visit;
Wreaths Across America Arlington
The Wreaths Across America Story Youtube video;
The Jacksonville Story
In 2007 the Patriot Guard Riders started attending the Wreaths Across America program conducted by the Civil Air Patrol FL-027 Springfield Composite Squadron at the Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida. At the conclusion of the 2008 program Ltc. Dewey Painter handed the reigns to the PGR to move the program to the Jacksonville National Cemetery for the 2009 program.
On the 10th of December 2009 in a cold steady rain 300+ volunteers gathered to place 1100 wreaths upon the graves of the Veterans laid to rest at the newly opened Jacksonville National Cemetery. The Navy Wives Club led by Kathy Cayton and Debbie Bowman proceeded to make wreaths to place wreaths upon the headstones of the spouses and children laid to their final rest. This would ensure that everyone received a holiday wreath.
In 2010 we expanded our goal to receive sponsorships to place a wreath upon every headstone at the Jacksonville National Cemetery. The Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia communities stepped up and met the challenge. In 2010 we were able to place over 2300 wreaths upon these hallowed grounds. With the number of wreaths growing so did the volunteers with approximately 1000 attending.
For 2011 our goal for 100% coverage grew to approximately 3600 wreaths. With a strong push nearing the deadline we again met out goal to Honor all of those laid to rest at the Jacksonville National Cemetery. With nearly 2000 in attendance the families who have a loved one at the Jacksonville National Cemetery were shown that their Heroes and loved ones will not be forgotten. We also had our largest to date participation of a wide variety of youth groups. With part of the Wreaths Across America mission to Teach our youth the value of Freedom, their leaders are helping us reach that goal.
UPDATE in progress. Please check back later.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were Free.”
President Ronald Regan (1911 – 2004) 40th President of the United States, from a speech on April 30, 1961