Twenty-five Christmases ago, in 1992, Morrill Worcester, a wreath maker from Maine found himself with a surplus with only a few days left until Christmas.

Remembering the impression Arlington National Cemetery had made on him during a visit there when he was 12-years-old, he teamed up with the owner of a local trucking company and drove 800 miles south to Washington D.C.

His senator, Olympia Snowe, made arrangements for the wreaths to be laid in older sections of the military cemetery where fewer and fewer visitors came to remember the men and women who had served.

Volunteers from the D.C. American Legion and VFW Posts placed the green wreaths with handcrafted red bows after a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

It was from this simple beginning, a spontaneous gesture of appreciation, that Wreaths Across America was born in 2007 and continued this weekend as volunteers participated in National Wreaths Across America Day, with ceremonies at 1228 veterans’ cemeteries in all 50 states.

Last year, 1.2 million wreaths donated by individuals, companies and organizations, were placed at the headstones of the final resting place of America’s veterans – 245,000 at Arlington alone.

“To see all these people come together, from all walks of life, with different opinions and politics and religions, in the cold and freezing rain, to join us here and across the country to say thank you to our veterans, proves, we aren’t all that different. We’re all grateful Americans,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America.

This year, volunteers braved sub-zero temperatures in many places not only to lay the fresh balsam wreaths still made by Worcester’s company, but to pause, read the headstone and say the name of the service member aloud.

“We are not here to decorate graves. We’re here to remember and honor not their deaths, but their lives.”

Wreaths have served as the symbol of honor for millennia going back to the original Olympics in Ancient Greece, and although they are used for decoration during the Christmas season, the Wreaths Across America project has not been subject to any complaints that the wreaths are offensive to certain other religions.

Let’s hope that, too, continues as the tradition lives on.

Image & story from: TheBlaze.com

 
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