HARRINGTON, Maine — An annual convoy of trucks carrying wreaths made by a local company is scheduled to depart for Arlington National Cemetery at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 7.
Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Co., said this week that the approximately 105,000 wreaths his firm will ship out this year could be a record.
The Wreaths Across America project, in which Worcester’s company and other organizations transport and then place wreaths at Arlington and other veterans’ memorials around the country, expects to have 25 trucks on the road to make sure all the wreaths reach their destinations by the end of next week.
Worcester said that this year, in addition to Arlington, the project is shipping wreaths to 354 cemeteries and monuments nationwide and to 24 more sites overseas, including four in Iraq. He said Wreaths Across America has approached the Navy about conducting wreath ceremonies at sea around the globe, but has yet to confirm that the ship ceremonies will take place.
The truck convoy, escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders and Maine State Police troopers, will make several stops along the way, including at a rally at 11:30 a.m. at Bangor Auditorium on the day of the departure. The convoy also will stop at the Augusta Armory, in downtown Lewiston, and at the Portland Exposition Building before heading out of state to other appearances along the way, Worcester said.
“It’s 34 stops, I believe,” he said. “We leave on Sunday and arrive [at Arlington] on Saturday.”
Worcester Wreath is donating 18,000 wreaths to the effort, according to Worcester. The rest are being paid for by donors to Wreaths Across America, he said, which is enlisting the help of more than 600 groups to help transport and lay the wreaths nationwide.
He said thousands are expected to attend the ceremony at Arlington, which will take place at noon Saturday, Dec. 13. He said ceremonies at other cemeteries and memorial sites across the country are scheduled to take place at the same approximate time.
Though the volunteer memorial effort seems to get bigger every year, the mission has been the same since wreaths first were laid at Arlington in 1992, Worcester said. It is to remember the fallen, to honor those who serve in the military, and to teach children the value of their service.
“We’ve been fortunate to have what we have, all because of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Worcester said.
Wal-Mart this year is donating the use of six trucks to complement those donated to the cause by Hartt Transportation and Pottle’s Transportation. The Civil Air Patrol, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Maine State Society in Washington, D.C., are all among the partners in the effort.
Worcester said some trucks will leave early in order to make it to the West Coast in time for the Dec. 13 ceremonies, but he expects about 100 people to witness the send-off in Harrington.
“It will be quite a group when we leave here,” Worcester said.