GREENVILLE— Cadet Airman 1st Class Nicholas Tinto of the Greenville Civil Air Patrol, recently participated in a one week trip to Arlington National Cemetery near Washington DC. Tinto was part of the Wreaths Across America program, now in its 21st year of decorating graves of our veterans for the holidays. His Commander Lieutenant Colonel Scott Higgins of Beaver Cove accompanied him on the trip.
This amazing odyssey started on a Saturday in early December at Quoddy Head State Park (on the coast in Washington County) with a sunrise ceremony. The next day, December 9, the wreaths left Worcester Wreath in Harrington in a huge convoy made up of over 28 tractor-trailers, Fire Trucks and private vehicles. The convoy was over five miles long and arrived at Arlington six days later on December 15.
This year marked a huge milestone for Wreaths Across America: the placing of the one-millionth wreath donated by the Worcester Wreath Company. Tinto was a part of this historic moment. He set wreaths on several graves and attended several ceremonies in Arlington. Tinto said the trip was very moving and educational. “I’ll never forget it,” he said. “And, if you’ve never been and ever get the chance you should go. It’s an amazing sight. It really made me think,” he added.
Wreaths Across America was started back in 1992 when Morrell Worcester found himself with 5,000 surplus wreaths. As a young boy delivering newspapers, he won a trip to Washington through the Bangor Daily News and had traveled to Arlington. His impression of that vast ground with so many stark white headstones stuck with him over the years. He gathered up the surplus wreaths and his family and traveled to Arlington to decorate the graves of our fallen veterans. The sight of the row upon row of decorated graves moved Worcester and his wife Karen to vow to repeat this every year of their lives. This year over 130,000 wreaths were placed at Arlington and over 430,000 on graves across America. The Worcester’s personal goal is to cover every grave in Arlington. “We’re getting closer every year thanks to the tireless efforts of hundreds and hundreds of volunteers,” Karen observed. “We are delighted to have Maine’s Civil Air Patrol involved with making this event such a success.”
The Civil Air Patrol is the civilian Auxiliary of the United States Air Force. The youth program is open to young men and women ages 12 – 18. The program teaches military leadership, aerospace education and emergency services. Cadets attend a weekly meeting and monthly training missions and cadets also have opportunities to attend encampments, career academies and program activities. The Civil Air Patrol is responsible for air search and rescue in the State of Maine, and Cadets learn ground search techniques to aid in locating downed aircraft. Every year in Greenville, the Civil Air Patrol has an important presence at the International Seaplane Fly-In. You can see the pride on the cadets’ faces as they help keep participating planes, as well as the large crowds safe during a very exciting and hectic weekend. Adult leaders are always needed to help run the program. For more information about becoming a cadet or a leader, contact Lieutenant Colonel Scott Higgins at 577-5998.