MACHIAS, Maine — A week of celebrations and honorariums for the Wreaths Across America campaign will kick off on Dec. 3 with a special wreath-laying event at the Machias Veterans’ Home. The campaign will end a week later, on Dec. 11, when more than 150,000 wreaths will be laid on veterans’ graves at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., and 350 at other veterans’ cemeteries and monuments across the country.
At least 20,000 of those wreaths will be donated by Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington. This is the 19th year of the annual Worcester Christmas tradition and the fourth year of the national Wreaths Across America campaign.
The original placement of the Maine wreaths began in 1992 when Morrill and Karen Worcester found themselves with a surplus of wreaths and brought them to Arlington. Morrill Worcester said that as a young paperboy for the Bangor Daily News, he had won a contest that included a trip to Washington, D.C. He said he never forgot the sight of the white crosses at Arlington.
Across the country, members of the Civil Air Patrol and the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution will assist in transporting and placing the wreaths.
At least 50 members and friends of the Maine Funeral Directors Association also will travel to Arlington National Cemetery to assist with the formal wreath laying.
The ceremony at Machias Veterans’ Home will take place at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, according to the Wreaths Across America campaign.
The next day, a special ceremony will be held at sunrise, which is expected at 6:48 a.m., at West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, followed by brunch at Washington County Community College.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, there will be a wreath ceremony at the Ferry Bridge in Calais on the border between Maine and Canada.
On Sunday, Dec. 5, the trucks carrying the wreaths will leave Narraguagus High School and the Worcester Wreath factory in Harrington about 9:15 a.m. after a breakfast at the high school for veterans and those involved in the wreath escort.
Other scheduled stops for the Maine wreath caravan on Sunday, Dec. 5, include Hermon Elementary School, an undetermined location in Belfast and Cheverus High School in Portland.
Sally Belanger, executive director of the Maine Funeral Directors Association, said a special ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 6, at the Hall of Flags in the State House at Augusta.
“Here in Maine, just as in other locations nationwide, funeral service practitioners and others who embrace the Wreaths Across America slogan ‘Remember the Fallen; Honor Those Who Serve, and Teach the Children the Value of Freedom’ will, in fact, remember and honor our veterans,” Belanger said in a prepared statement.
The Maine Funeral Directors Association will join with the Wreaths Across America campaign to conduct the State House ceremony.
Belanger said representatives from Hermon High School JROTC, Sanford High School Chorus, Civil Air Patrol, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bangor Troop Greeters, Maine Patriot Guard Riders, several active duty and National Guard-Army Reserve personnel, and representatives from the Maine Veterans Funeral Honors Program are expected to attend.
The caravan of wreath-filled trucks and their escorts then will head out with stops at Wells Middle School and Kittery Trading Post.
The trucks and escorts will travel through and stop for ceremonies in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. They are expected to arrive at Arlington National Cemetery early on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 11.
This year the Maine contingent will place wreaths in sections 28, 38, 43 and 60. Wreaths also will be placed at the Tomb of the Unknowns, the Pentagon and all war memorials in Washington, D.C.
Wreaths to leave Maine for Arlington