Volunteers adorn Arlington National Cemetery with 24,000 wreaths
December 14, 2010
By J.D. Leipold
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 14, 2010) -- More than 2,000 spirited volunteers braved a subfreezing dawn and gray-cast skies Dec. 11, to place 24,000 red-bowed wreaths on an equal number of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery.
Creator of the Arlington wreath project, Morrill Worcester, started it all in 1992 with a surplus of 5,000 wreaths from his company, Worcester Wreath, that he and his family started in 1971. In 2008, he doubled his gift to 10,000, then moved it up to 16,000 in 2009 and to the current level of 24,000 wreaths for 2010. That's just for Arlington.
The life-long resident of Bangor, Maine, also donated 20,000 wreaths to the 199,000 others in a bigger project that he started in 2008, Wreaths Across America, which he says just keeps growing and growing. Wreaths are now placed on graves at 550 national and state veterans' cemeteries as well as at private and non-vet cemeteries in towns all over the country and even overseas.
Worcester came up with the idea of placing wreaths at Arlington nearly 20 years ago as the result of a trip he'd won as a 12-year-old paper boy. Visiting the nation's capital and country's most famous national cemetery, Worcester was left with an indelible impression of the veterans who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Worcester's goal for next year is to place twenty-four thousand wreaths at Arlington, with an eventual goal of laying wreaths at all of Arlington's more than 300,000 graves.
"We want to put a wreath on every single grave, but that may be kind of a tall order," he admitted. "But you know if you don't have that dream, it's not going to happen, so, that's our goal and we'll need a tremendous amount of help, but it's doable. We've got 365 days to do it, so we'll just have to wait and see."