Inspired by Maine’s Wreaths Across America project

12 years ago

Susan CollinsBy U.S. Sen. Susan Collins

In this season of giving, the thoughts of all Americans turn to those who have given us the most precious gift of all: our freedom. All Mainers should be proud that an inspiring and generous expression of America’s gratitude began right here in our state.

This marks the 20th year that the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington has spearheaded an effort known as “Wreaths Across America.” On December 10th, a convoy of Mainers will arrive at Arlington National Cemetery with truckloads of Maine-made balsam fir wreaths. They will be escorted on the drive from Maine to Washington by law enforcement officers, veterans, and Maine’s Patriot Guard riders. Upon arrival, they will be greeted by the cheers of several thousand volunteers who will have gathered in the cemetery.

In what has become a moving tradition, volunteers will lay these beautiful wreaths, each adorned with a bright red bow, at the grave sites of our nation’s fallen soldiers and veterans. When the Worcester family started this tradition in 1992, they delivered 5,000 wreaths to Arlington that could not be sold before Christmas. Last year, more than 220,000 memorial wreaths were laid at 545 locations across the United States and in U.S. veterans’ cemeteries abroad. The sight of all those wreaths laid on that hallowed ground is truly inspiring.

In recognition of the Worcester family’s hard work and the generosity of all those who have helped in the effort, the United States Senate unanimously passed a Resolution that I authored along with Senator Olympia Snowe designating December 10, 2011, as “Wreaths Across America Day.” This resolution honors all of those who make this tradition possible and recognizes the sacrifices our veterans, service members and their families have made, and continue to make, for our great nation.

Wreaths Across America honors our fallen heroes, but it does even more. It tells the veterans still with us that we honor their service. It tells the families of the departed that we share their loss. It tells our men and women in uniform today that we are grateful for their courage, sacrifice, and devotion to duty. It tells the families of those serving our country that their loved ones are in our thoughts and prayers.

The mission of Wreaths Across America is: Remember. Honor. Teach. Thanks to the generosity and spirit displayed by those involved in the wreath-laying tradition, we will remember and honor our nation’s veterans this holiday season, while also teaching others that it is always best to give of ourselves in order to make someone else’s life a little better.