Wreaths Across America Honors 420,000 Veterans
110,662 Remembrance Wreaths Placed at Arlington National Cemetery Including the One Millionth Wreath Since 1992
ARLINGTON, Va., and COLUMBIA FALLS, Maine — Dec. 17, 2012 — Wreaths Across America, along with nearly 200,000 volunteers across the country and overseas at 825 locations, placed 420,000 remembrance wreaths on the headstones of our nation’s fallen military on Saturday in celebration of National Wreaths Across America Day. At Arlington National Cemetery, 110,662 wreaths were placed by more than 20,000 volunteers, making it the largest wreath delivery to date at our nation’s cemetery.
This is the group’s 21st year laying wreaths at Arlington, and marked the laying of the one-millionth wreath since the start of the program in 1992 by Maine businessman and wreath-maker Morrill Worcester. Mary Byers, president of The American Gold Star Mothers, was joined by her husband Lloyd and wounded veteran Army Sgt. Justin Lansford to place the millionth wreath in section 60 — the newest section of the cemetery — where soldiers from the country’s most recent conflicts are laid to rest. “I am so grateful to Wreaths Across America and Morrill Worcester for giving me this great honor,” said Mary Byers, president, American Gold Star Mothers. “I lay this wreath in honor of my son, Josh, and all the soldiers who won’t make it home.”
Wreaths Across America’s mission — Remember, Honor, Teach — is carried out in part by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. Since becoming a nonprofit in 2007, the organization has since expanded to include more than 1,000 local fundraising groups in all 50 states representing more than 800 cemeteries, military memorials and other locations, along with Arlington National Cemetery.
“To say we are overwhelmed by the number of people who came out to support our mission is an understatement. The patriotism shown here today fills my heart with hope and we are thankful beyond words,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America. “We will remember heroes today, and honor their families, but we will also teach our children the importance of character. The character of an American is not easily defined, but it can be seen by the sacrifices of our young men and women fighting to protect our freedoms, and the loved ones they leave behind.”
The wreaths’ journey to Arlington has become a tradition over the past two decades, allowing locals along the more than 700-mile route to share in the emotional and educational experience as the convoy of long-haul tractor-trailers, buses, police and motorcycles passed through their hometowns. The trip to Arlington National Cemetery started Sunday, Dec. 9 in Harrington, Maine, and ended at Arlington this past Saturday to the welcome of more than 20,000 volunteers who had come out to support the effort.
The wreaths placed at Arlington will remain through the New Year and will be collected on Jan. 26, 2013.