2016 has been an extraordinary year filled with triumphs, tribulations, and an abundance of patriotism. The Wreaths Across America family wishes to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of you who sponsored a remembrance wreath to honor our veterans.
Twenty-five years ago this December, a wreath-maker from Maine had 5,000 extra wreaths. Rather than letting them go to waste, he gave the wreaths as a gift of thanks for the service and sacrifice made by our nation’s military so he could live freely to work and raise his family.
Morrill Worcester could never have foreseen then how this simple gesture would ignite a passion in the hearts and souls of millions of Americans many years later.
The original 5,000 wreaths at Arlington has this year grown to 1.2 million wreaths being placed at 1,228 locations nationwide. At Arlington National Cemetery specifically this year, 245,000 wreaths were placed by more than 44,000 volunteers. More than 400 truckloads of wreaths were transported across the country through a network of hundreds of volunteer drivers, donated trucking and diesel, and countless hours of dedicated volunteers committed to the mission to Remember, Honor, and Teach.
“To see all these people come together from all walks of life with different opinions, 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,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America. “We’re all grateful Americans.”
“Every year something touches my heart. This year even before we left I was reflecting on how many who speak of veterans and active duty will comment that their families will have an empty place at their holiday table. It’s a phrase used by many but if you think about it, it's very graphic. My Grandson Miles is a true patriot and we talked abut about this. Together, we decided we would set a “missing man” place setting at the Worcester holiday dinner. We’re 24 strong and very grateful. It will remind us why we can gather in safety and freedom."
During the upcoming holiday season, Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America, and her grandson Miles Worcester make the following request of you and your family in continued support of our mission to remember, honor, and teach.
"We have a dedicated group of compassionate people who come together to help military veterans," Rebecca explains. "If someone reaches out to us and says 'hey we need help getting a veteran's roof shingled' then we try to get it done."
“Every year we have so many professional drivers, bikers, police officers and other first responders, ask us how they can get involved, even if they can’t transport wreaths,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America.
"There are a lot of similarities between the military and the trucking industry," Rob explains. "I think that's why you see a lot of veterans successful as truck drivers."
Johnny Vet: Freedom Isn’t Free is a dynamic and inspirational musical journey of the men and women who have fought the nation’s wars and how those same men and women, as veterans, have helped to shape the nation and its destiny.
"History can be studied in many ways, and it's important to do so for a contextual understanding of the journey taken by an individual, organization, or nation."
"It's heart-wrenching to see that and participate in that, Rick shares. "To see all the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles waiting there to have a wreath to place on their family member's headstone, there are just no words for it, none."
"We're just Moms who serve through the organization to make sure that our children's names and lives are not forgotten."
From our standpoint, it's a relatively small thing to do, and we're proud to be a part of the mission."
"With NFI managing the logistics, the sky is the limit. They will help make the entire operation more efficient,” said Debbie Sparks, Director Corporate Development and Community Relations, Wreaths Across America.
Luann started her volunteer efforts with Wreaths Across America in 2015 after hearing about it from a friend who was participating with her DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) group. She's working to sponsor wreaths to cover all of the known heroes laid to rest at Oaklawn.