Army honors 'Wreaths Across America' organizers
December 15, 2009
WASHINGTON (Dec. 14, 2009) -- Donors and organizers of the program which placed 15,000 holiday wreaths on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery were honored Saturday with U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute commendations.
Morrill and Karen Worcester, who donated Maine balsam fir holiday wreaths from their farm in Maine, were honored on behalf of the secretary of the Army and Army chief of staff for their 18 consecutive years of supporting the program.
Wayne Hanson, former president and member of the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C., and organizer of "Wreaths Across America: Arlington," was also honored for his long-standing dedication to honor America's fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery.
"The Worcesters' and Wayne Hanson's efforts are truly appreciated," said Col. David Griffith, director of U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute. "The effort that goes into this project exemplifies patriotism and honor and we are proud to recognize their efforts with U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute commendations."
Before blanketing selected sections with wreaths, the Worcesters and Hanson were officially pinned with U.S. Army supporter lapel pins and presented Freedom Team Salute commendations under the cemetery's historic McClellan Arch in front of about 5,000 volunteers from Maine Civil Air Patrol units, local VFW and American Legion posts and military units. Congressional staffers, school children, Scout troops, and volunteers from all corners of the United States were also there.
"As a Vietnam vet, it is nice to be recognized in this manner by the Army," Hanson said. "It is a privilege to honor our fallen heroes and have so many volunteers to help us do so."
The wreaths, each emblazed with a bright red ribbon, were made by in Maine by a combination of wreathmakers and Maine veterans. They were then loaded into trucks donated by Wal-Mart, Hartt Transportation, and Pottles Transportation of Bangor, Maine. The trucks were escorted on their trip from Maine to Arlington by members of the Patriot Guard Riders - a nationwide group of veteran bikers and troopers from the Maine State Police.
(Lindsey Brothers serves as a communications specialist for Freedom Team Salute.)