Podcast listener and long-time Yule Log fan, Denise, lives in Maine. She contacted me early this morning to ask if I was familiar with the Wreaths Across America?
I’m so glad she shared the website and history of this beautiful tribute to our veterans. We recently recognized our military forces on Veterans Day, but the Wreaths Across America program is a national effort to give tribute by placing wreaths on military graves throughout the country.
In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Owner Morrill Worcester, with the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arranged for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington Cemetery in one of the older sections of the cemetery where there were fewer visitors. As plans were underway, a number of other individuals and organizations stepped up to help. James Prout, owner of local trucking company Blue Bird Ranch, Inc., generously provided transportation all the way to Virginia. Volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW Posts gathered with members of the community to decorate each wreath with traditional red, hand-tied bows. Members of the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. helped to organize the wreath-laying, which included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
There is week-long “Veteran’s Parade” between Maine and Virginia where they stop along the way to spread the message about the importance of remembering our fallen heroes, honoring those who serve, and teaching our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms. Volunteer truckers and corporate donors support this Christmas miracle. Denise told me that one of the stops on the parade was her daughter’s school.
This effort continued for many years without recognition or fanfare until 2005, when a photo of Arlington cemetery with the wreaths in the snow began circulating on the internet. From there, a national effort was born. Many people began to ask how they could become involved and honor the veterans buried in their local cemeteries.
All 50 states have become involved. There is an interactive map on the website that illustrates the current programs in all 50 states. You can go on the website and sponsor a single wreath for $15 or get a group together to make a “small business” sponsorship (10) or a “corporate sponsorship” (100).
My description in this post does not capture the significance of this effort, whose motto is “Remember, Honor, Teach.” It’s not too late for your family, church, organization, or corporation to get involved. Wreaths Across America Day is Saturday, December 15, 2012.