• Hundreds of volunteers braved deep-freeze chills Dec. 11, to place 24,000 wreaths on as many graves at Arlington National Cemetery.

    Volunteers by the Hundreds

    Hundreds of volunteers braved deep-freeze chills Dec. 11, to place 24,000 wreaths on as many graves at Arlington National Cemetery.

  • One of four tractor trailers made the journey from Bangor, Maine, carrying 24,000 wreaths, which were laid on Arlington National Cemetery graves by thousands of volunteers Dec. 11.

    WAA Truck

    One of four tractor trailers made the journey from Bangor, Maine, carrying 24,000 wreaths, which were laid on Arlington National Cemetery graves by thousands of volunteers Dec. 11.

  • Volunteers pass out wreaths to other volunteers who rested them on 24,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery Dec. 11.

    Distributing Wreaths

    Volunteers pass out wreaths to other volunteers who rested them on 24,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery Dec. 11.

  • Volunteers of all ages braved freezing temperatures to place 24,000 wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery Dec. 11, for the 18th consecutive year. Morrill Worcester began the wreath tradition at Arlington in 1992 when he donated 5,000 wreaths. His goal is to see each of the 300,000 graves at Arlington bear a wreath of remembrance.

    Little Girl fixing wreath bow

    Volunteers of all ages braved freezing temperatures to place 24,000 wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery Dec. 11, for the 18th consecutive year. Morrill Worcester began the wreath tradition at Arlington in 1992 when he donated 5,000...

  • A volunteer rests one of 24,000 wreaths on a grave at Arlington National Cemetery Dec. 11, as part of the Wreaths Across America program.

    Woman laying down Wreath

    A volunteer rests one of 24,000 wreaths on a grave at Arlington National Cemetery Dec. 11, as part of the Wreaths Across America program.

  • Volunteers adorned 24,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery with donated wreaths from Morrill Worcester, founder of Worcester Wreath Company, Dec. 11. Worcester started the Arlington wreath-laying 18 years ago with 5,000 wreaths.

    Wreath upon Wreath etc.

    Volunteers adorned 24,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery with donated wreaths from Morrill Worcester, founder of Worcester Wreath Company, Dec. 11. Worcester started the Arlington wreath-laying 18 years ago with 5,000 wreaths.

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."

Page last updated Tue December 14th, 2010 at 13:53