Thread: Wreaths across America
12.15.06, 06:16 AM #1
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Wreaths across America
Don't know if this has been posted here yet.
Chieck out this story along with the link @ the bottom of the article. Hope this brings a litte more joy to the X-MAS season.
Thursday, December 7, 2006 · Last updated 1:39 a.m. PT
Maine wreath-maker honors veterans
By CLARKE CANFIELD
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
HARRINGTON, Maine -- Money virtually grows on trees in eastern Maine, where balsam fir branches are transformed into hundreds of thousands of Christmas wreaths worth millions of dollars each holiday season.
For Morrill Worcester, owner of the state's largest wreath company, the season is more about heart than money. This month, for the 15th year, he'll send a truckload of 5,000 wreaths to be placed on gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery.
Worcester, 56, never served in the military. But he feels the need to show his appreciation to the nation's veterans.
Every day, people contact him to give thanks. Some call him a "great American."
"I'm not a great American. I'm a grateful American," Worcester said.
This year, Worcester is extending his gratitude nationwide. Besides sending wreaths to Arlington, he is spearheading wreath-laying ceremonies at nearly 230 veterans cemeteries and monuments in every state and Puerto Rico. He's donating about 8,000 wreaths.
The ceremonies are to be held simultaneously at noon EST on Dec. 14.
About 600 workers at Worcester Wreath Co. assemble and pack wreaths at four plants in Maine. This year, the company will ship more than 500,000 wreaths and other holiday greenery. Most of the products are sold through L.L. Bean.
Worcester's donations began in 1992 after he found himself with an extra 5,000 wreaths in mid-December - too late to bring them to market. His mind turned to Arlington National Cemetery, which he had visited when he was 12 after winning a trip to Washington from his paper delivery route.
That first year, Worcester and a handful of volunteers placed the wreaths on row after row of white headstones and held a brief ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There was little fanfare and little press coverage.
Every December since, Worcester has been on hand as the event has grown to hundreds of volunteers and more elaborate ceremonies.
This year, Worcester's wife, Karen, came up with the idea for Wreaths Across America.
She becomes teary-eyed talking about the 7,000 to 8,000 e-mails, letters and phone calls the company has received this year. Many speak of family or friends serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's so emotional it's unbelievable," she said.
On Sunday, volunteers will load a tractor-trailer with a Wreaths Across America logo on its side. When the truck pulls out, it'll be accompanied by members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a national group of motorcycle riders that works to recognize veterans.
Depending on the weather, between 50 and 200 Patriot Guard members are expected to accompany the wreath-filled truck along the 770-mile journey to the gates of Arlington National Cemetery.
"It's absolutely phenomenal," said Scott Deal, a Patriot Guard rider and former Marine from Brooklyn. "He's doing this at his own expense, he's using his own people. And he's taking the time to educate people on why he's doing it."
On a recent day, as Morrill Worcester worked on plans for the Wreaths Across America ceremonies, he got a call from a veteran in Houston who wanted to thank him.
"To thank me - it's totally backward," he said later. "He's the one we should be thanking."
12.15.06, 06:30 AM #2
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Great gesture and great story. I've heard about it several times this season, which means it should be too long before the ACLU or the Atheists or someone else is all over it and fucks it up for future years.
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