By Lynn R. Mitchell
Wreaths Across America tractor-trailer trucks left Maine last weekend for the week-long journey to Arlington and other national cemeteries throughout America, each loaded with evergreen wreaths. If you drive by a military cemetery on Saturday and see tombstones decorated with fresh, handmade balsam Christmas wreaths accented with bright red bows, you will have witnessed the generosity of Wreaths Across America.
The tradition was started in 1992 with 4,000 wreaths donated by Merrill Worcester, a tradition that continues on the second Saturday each December. This year, thousands of volunteers across the nation and around the world will lay 219,000 wreaths on military graves as a remembrance of those who sacrificed for our freedom.
Mr. Worcester’s quiet donation all those years ago of 4,000 wreaths for Arlington Cemetery has become an annual gift of love from this Maine wreath maker who recognized that freedom is not free. Because of his generosity and desire to remember those who sacrificed, he started a tradition that was fairly obscure for 12 years until a photo hit the internet in 2005 showing the Christmas wreaths on Arlington’s snow-covered graves.