ARLINGTON, Va. -– Wreaths Across America, along with nearly 30,000 volunteers, placed remembrance wreaths on the headstones of more than 143,000 veterans’ graves at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. Across the country, 540,000 remembrance wreaths were placed in honor of U.S. veterans at 908 locations.
This year’s events mark the largest number of wreaths ever delivered.
Among those in attendance Saturday was Maine wreath-maker and founder of Wreaths Across America, Morrill Worcester, who began delivering wreaths to Arlington in 1992 as a gift. Since the organization’s inception as a 501c3 in 2007, he has seen his vision grow to include more than 1,000 fundraising groups and more than 900 cemeteries nationwide. “Next year marks the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery,” he said. “It is our goal to lay remembrance wreaths on each headstone here, to honor this place, and the brave men and women laid to rest here.”
Also attending the event Saturday were Karen Worcester, executive director of the Harrington-based Wreaths Across America, Patrick K. Hallinan, superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, Chris Burruss, president of the Truckload Carriers Association, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and first lady Ann LePage, country singer Lindsay Lawler and songwriter Chris Roberts, as well as several Gold Star families and countless veterans.
“It is an honor to lay remembrance wreaths today in Arlington National Cemetery,” Gov. LePage tweeted.
“There is comfort in knowing that everyone here has been touched and inspired by those we came to honor,” said Karen Worcester. “Every day of our lives, in simple everyday joys, we see proof that their sacrifice was not in vain, and we are grateful.”
As part of the ceremony, Patriot Guard Riders laid a wreath at the grave of President John F. Kennedy. Later, Governor and Mrs. LePage placed a wreath at the USS Maine Memorial followed by a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
A convoy of more than 30 vehicles, including tractor-trailers, buses, motorcycles and cars carrying wreaths, veterans, families of fallen soldiers, and supporters, delivered the wreaths from Maine after participating in a weeklong convoy. The group stopped at schools, memorials and in communities in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, to share its mission to Remember, Honor and Teach.
This year, for the first time, a stop was made at the Statue of Liberty for the placement of a special Freedom Wreath. The wreath was placed at the Statue in a ceremony to commemorate and honor the men and women of our armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve all Americans’ sacred right to freedom.