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In 1963, Morrill Worcester was 12 years old and on his first trip outside Maine when he visited Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia, our national shrine to America’s military heroes. He won the trip as a paperboy in a contest and was so impressed by what he saw there that he vowed he would always honor America’s veterans. He has kept that promise.

Worcester, who owns Worcester Wreaths, in Harrington, Maine, began placing holiday wreaths on graves at Arlington in 1992 as his way of remembering and honoring the veterans buried there.

Before 2006, about 150 to 200 people helped him place the wreaths, but he wanted to expand the wreath project. He enlisted the help of the Civil Air Patrol and reached out across the United States to place wreaths on veterans’ graves in all 50 states. And so began the Wreaths Across America Project, its mission to remember the fallen, honor those who serve and teach children the value of freedom.

Last year, the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcyclists’ group that provides honor guards at military funerals, escorted the tractor-trailer carrying wreaths 750 miles from Maine to Arlington. Thousands of volunteers met at the cemetery to quietly go about their task among the white headstones. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines joined with schoolchildren, Boy Scouts and members of the Civil Air Patrol, police and firefighters to place decorated wreaths on the graves of fallen heroes.

This week, more than 10,000 donated Christmas wreaths from Maine are making the annual trek to Arlington, where they will adorn the graves of veterans in a solemn tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The trucks will be escorted through Rhode Island tomorrow by the Patriot Guard Riders and the Civil Air Patrol, among others. Supporters are encouraged to show their respect and appreciation with their presence along the highway as the vehicles pass.

The convoy will travel through the state along Route 1, with a scheduled stop at the Seabee Museum and Memorial Park at 21 Iafrate Way, North Kingstown, at about noon, where the public is invited. The convoy will then continue on Route 1 to Connecticut.

In addition to Arlington, Worcester Wreaths is donating ceremonial wreaths to more than 200 state and national veterans cemeteries. All wreath-laying ceremonies will be held simultaneously on Saturday at noon, including an observance at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery, in Exeter.

To volunteer or for more information, call Ed King at (401) 230-3414 or send e-mail him at ejk002@cox.net. Also, visit online at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Wreaths head toward Arlington National Cemetery to honor veterans
10 December 2007

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine—A caravan of veterans, truckers and other volunteers continued its journey through Maine on Monday with tractor-trailers full of wreaths destined for Arlington National Cemetery.

The convoy got under way Sunday in the eastern Maine town of Harrington, the home of Worcester Wreath Co., which is donating wreaths to honor veterans at the cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

This is the 16th year that Morrill Worcester is donating wreaths to honor the nation's veterans. This year, he doubled the number or wreaths -- from 5,000 to 10,000 -- that he is giving toward the effort.

The caravan on Sunday traveled along Route 1 from Harrington to South Portland. It continued south on Monday toward its final destination of Arlington, where the wreaths will be laid on headstones on Saturday.

Worcester has also helped promote other wreath-laying ceremonies to take place Saturday at scores of cemeteries and memorial sites in all 50 states and Puerto Rico as part of his Wreaths Across America campaign to pay honor to those in uniform.

Posted: 10 December 2007