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.
Placing fresh, hand-made balsam remembrance wreaths on the headstones of veterans across the country in December requires tremendous logistics and unyielding support from the trucking industry.
Wreaths Across America shows its gratitude and appreciation for all those involved in transporting America's respect with "Trucking Tributes." These stories will introduce you to the men and women of the industry who make our mission possible like Steven Meyer and Arpin Van Lines.
"Wreaths Across America has been a part of my life that has assisted in my healing from the loss of my oldest son," Diana explains. "It allows me to "give back" in his memory and service." Read more about Diana's volunteer service in Kansas and how you can get involved too in our mission to remember, honor, and teach.
"All Michael ever wanted to do is join the military and serve the country," explains Gold Star Dad and professional driver Mike Stansbery. Michael Jr. was killed in Iraq in 2010. In this video, you can see how the Stansbery's have been able to honor Michael from Stem to Stone.
"When the ship was opened up by a German U-Boat torpedo it began to take on water and sink. Witnesses report that through the pandemonium four Army Chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness." Read about WAA's tree dedication to the Four Chaplains here.
Despite freezing rain, an estimated 44,000 volunteers placed 245,000 remembrance wreaths, and many hands on January 28th will make quick work of picking up those wreaths. Details Here.
Wreaths Across America launched its inaugural Living History Project in December of 2016 with the support of stalwart volunteers who believe similarly as Col. Frank Blazich Jr. that "if you don't know where you've been then it's difficult to know where you're going." See video here.
The mission to honor those who serve and their families is important to Wayne on a deeply personal level. As a Vietnam Veteran, Wayne recalls there was no "welcome home" and the disrespectful treatment returning soldiers received was disheartening. Read more about WAA's Chairman of the Board and his commitment to WAA here.
Traveling from eastern Maine to Virginia, the convoy of escort vehicles and tractor-trailer rigs filled with balsam fir remembrance wreaths often stretched for miles as it rolled down the highway stopping at schools, American Legion posts, and other community centers. Citizens lined the streets and overpasses waving flags, holding signs, and shouting "thank you" or rhythmically chanting "USA, USA, USA!" See excerpts from the West Point Sunrise Ceremony here.
Wreaths Across America thanks you for an extraordinary year and challenges you to extend our mission to remember, honor, and teach into 2017. See this "special request" video.
American Military University, with our strong military heritage, has proudly supported Wreaths Across America since 2011 and has again donated 1,000 wreaths for Arlington National Cemetery this year.