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America Supports You: Wreaths Encourage Remembering Fallen Heroes

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va., Dec. 14, 2006 – Morrill Worcester was 12 years old and on his first trip outside of Maine when he first visited this shrine to America’s heroes.

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A wreath decorates the grave of Spanish-American War casualty Lt. F.W. Sowey at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. Morrill Worcester, a Maine businessman, donated 5,000 wreaths to honor veterans. Photo by Jim Garamone

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He vowed then that he would always honor America’s veterans, and he has kept that promise.

Worcester now owns Worcester Wreaths, in Harrington, Maine. He began placing wreaths on graves at Arlington in 1992. “We need to remember these veterans who have done so much for America,” he said as he handed out wreaths from a tractor trailer this morning. “We need to honor them.”

In the past, about 150 to 200 people have helped place the wreaths. This year, Worcester wanted to expand the wreath project. He enlisted the help of the Civil Air Patrol and reached out across the United States to place wreaths on graves in all 50 states.

The Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcycle riders that provides honor guards at military funerals, escorted the truck carrying the wreaths to Arlington from Maine. Thousands of volunteers met at the cemetery this morning to help place the wreaths. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines joined with schoolchildren, Boy Scouts and members of the Civil Air Patrol.

Police and firefighters also came to pay their respects to the veterans.

A heavy fog enshrouded the effort, and water dripped from trees and on stones. As volunteers were placing wreaths, an Army honor platoon, color guard and caisson bearing a flag-covered-coffin went past. Military volunteers stopped working and saluted. Civilians working with them placed their hands over their hearts before going back to work.

“The whole thing is overwhelming,” said Karen Worcester, Morrill’s wife.

Pat Mackin, the mother of Navy Lt. Michael M. McGreevey, a SEAL killed in Afghanistan, thanked the Worcesters for their efforts. “It’s nice to know people remember,” Mackin told Karen Worcester.

“Don’t thank me,” Worcester said. “Thank you for your son and all you have gone through and given us all.”

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Related Sites:
Arlington National Cemetery
Wreaths Across America

Click photo for screen-resolution imageVolunteers fan out over Arlington National Cemetery, Va., to place 5,000 wreaths on the graves of veterans. The wreaths, donated by a Maine businessman, attracted thousands of people to pay their respects to veterans. Photo by Jim Garamone  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSkowhegan, Maine, elementary school students fan out to place wreaths at the graves of veterans at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Dec. 14. Photo by Jim Garamone  
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