Morrill Worcester was 12 years old when he made a trip to Washington, D.C. for the first time. His visit to Arlington National Cemetery left an impression that he would never forget. Later in his life, the former newspaper boy went on to become the owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, and the founder of Wreaths Across America.
Over the years, Worcester has reflected on his experience at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1992, he found himself with an abundance of extra wreaths during the holiday season. Remembering his childhood trip to Arlington National Cemetery, Worcester realized he could use his excess wreaths to honor the fallen soldiers.
With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, Worcester was able to place the excess wreaths in an older section of Arlington National Cemetery that received fewer visitors. And with that, the tradition of Wreaths Across America was born.
The annual event went on quietly for a few years until 2005 when a photo of the cemetery covered in wreaths with traditional red bows went viral on the internet. Since then, Wreaths Across America has become a huge organization that lays more than half a million wreaths a year at more than 1,000 different locations across the United States and overseas.
National cemeteries from Arlington, Virginia all the way to the coast of California participate in this event every year. There are several locations in West Virginia that take part in Wreaths Across America. The Grafton National Cemetery, the West Virginia National Cemetery, and the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery all three are part of this annual event. Other smaller community cemeteries for veterans often hold their own events.
On December 18, 2021, Wreaths Across America will be at all the nationally recognized West Virginia Veteran’s Cemeteries. There are 6,200 graves at the West Virginia National Cemetery, 2,110 at the Grafton National Cemetery, and 1,500 at the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery. The goal is to have a wreath on every single grave.
If you are interested in sponsoring a wreath for Wreaths Across America or volunteering in laying a wreath, visit: https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/.