At this special time of year, honoring our veterans is an important tradition celebrated throughout the country.
Though many celebrate and remember veterans in their own way, Wreaths Across America is also spreading the love and helping America keep veterans in their hearts over the holiday season.
Through their non-profit organization, Wreaths Across America has drawn attention to veterans every year with heartfelt wreath-laying ceremonies every December for decades.
Since 1992, hundreds of thousands of wreaths have been laid every year at the gravesites of veterans at Arlington and all over the country, that number growing every year as more people, and organizations take part in helping remember veterans at Christmas.
Today, the number of wreaths laid every December is in the millions.
How Did Wreaths Across American Begin?
So, how did all this get started?
Like many other things, Wreaths Across America had very humble beginnings, an idea that sprouted from the lasting impression that a visit to Arlington National Cemetery made on one 12-year-old boy.
Morrill Worcester of Bangor was that boy who later grew up to own the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine.
One year as Worcester found himself with a large surplus of wreaths before Christmas, his memories of Arlington and appreciation for the sacrifice American veterans continue to make for our country came to mind.
He decided that it would be an honorable gesture to ship his wreaths to the National Cemetery to be laid at the headstones of all the veterans there.
With the help of Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine who arranged the wreath-laying for him, as well as some individual and organization volunteers who offered to help including the Blue Bird Ranch, Inc. trucking company, Worcester’s wreaths were transported all the way to Virginia.
American Legion members and other volunteers received and laid them out on the headstones during a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
That was the first wreath-laying ceremony that became a yearly tradition starting in 1992.
The Birth of Wreaths Across America
Since then, the ceremony has received much national attention which has helped the effort grow into what it is today, a nationwide gesture of remembrance.
When the idea really took off, Worcester provided 7 wreaths to each state, one for each military branch and our POWs/MIAs since he could not possibly produce enough wreaths for the entire country and that is where individual states and people took over.
The people began providing their own wreaths so they were laid at 150 cemeteries in 2005 and in 2007, Wreaths Across America was formed.
Non-Profit Fundraising Began
Created as a non-profit, Wreaths Across America began fundraising so that as many veterans as possible could be honored with a wreath.
In 2008 when wreaths were laid at more than 300 cemeteries, the annual wreath-laying was given its own official day on December 13th.
In 2019, there were 2.2 million wreaths laid on veteran headstones at 2,158 participating cemeteries and the numbers continue to grow as more and more Americans learn about this important and sentimental effort.
The annual Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremony is held on either the second or third Saturday of December and Wreaths Across America still makes the journey from Maine to Virginia for the official Arlington wreath-laying.
Throughout the country, thousands of volunteers lay wreaths paid for by sponsorships and funds donated by the public.
The organization has grown exponentially and now provides educational seminars for younger people while also running their “Thanks A Million” campaign that sends Thank You cards to veterans all over the country.
Local Brazos Valley Efforts
Like everyone here at Brazos Valley Cares and all our supporters, Wreath Across America maintains one single purpose: to ensure that our veterans, both living and passed on, are not forgotten.
Whether through symbolic wreath-laying ceremonies at the holidays, educating younger people about the sacrifice our veterans have made for America, or supporting them physically and financially on a local and national level, we are here for our veterans.
For more information about Wreaths Across America and how to sponsor a wreath or get involved in other ways, visit their website at https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/
To support veterans right here in the Brazos Valley, please contact Brazos Valley Cares at our website to find out how you can help at https://www.brazosvalleycares.org/.