Wreaths Across America Dayby Senator Angus S. King, Jr.
Posted on 2015-12-08
KING. Mr. President, today I have joined my esteemed colleague,
Senator Susan Collins, in submitting a resolution designating December
12, 2015, as Wreaths Across America Day. What started as a quiet
tribute to our Nation's veterans in a small town in Washington County,
Maine 24 years ago, has blossomed into one of the greatest honors paid
to our servicemembers coast to coast. Every December, donated balsam
fir wreaths travel from Harrington, ME, to veterans' cemeteries around
the country and are placed on the graves of our fallen heroes. During
this season of giving, it is only fitting to recognize this wonderful
tradition and the generosity of those who conceived it, and as always,
to reaffirm our commitment and appreciation for those who fought to
preserve our freedom.
During the 1992 holiday season, Morrill and Karen Worcester of Worcester Wreath Company found themselves with a surplus of unused wreaths. Recalling a boyhood visit to Arlington National Cemetery, Morrill was inspired to use those extra wreaths to honor American servicemembers. So, aided by then-Senator Olympia Snowe and determined to celebrate our veterans and their families, the Worcesters arranged to have the wreaths placed in one of the older sections of Arlington National Cemetery.
Building on the Worcester family's vision, other folks from around Maine stepped up to help out and give back. James Prout, the owner of a Maine trucking company, made sure the wreaths were safely transported to Arlington. The Maine State Society of Washington, D.C., a group of people from Maine living and working in the Nation's capital, helped organize the wreath laying ceremony at the cemetery.
So it went for several years--wreaths were quietly assembled and sent to Arlington National Cemetery to honor our country's veterans. Then in 2005, a photo of the wreaths in Arlington took the internet by storm, and the tradition quickly gained widespread attention. The salient image of the snow-covered wreaths resting on the graves of the fallen transformed what was [[Page S8502]] once a quiet act of kindness to a national sensation. Soon thousands of volunteers were inspired to help in Arlington or to bring the project to their hometowns throughout the country.
Last year alone, Wreaths Across America and its national network of volunteers laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 locations including sites in all 50 States and numerous national veteran cemeteries on foreign soil. Thanks to truckers and the Patriot Guard Riders who escort the tractor trailers on their motorcycles, the wreaths travel to Arlington and beyond as part of a Veterans Honor Parade--stopping along the way to remember, honor, and teach.
I am proud to stand with Senator Collins in sponsoring December 12, 2015, as Wreaths Across America Day. On this day, and every day, let us remember the brave men and women who have served our country and thank the dedicated volunteers who proudly honor their memory and sacrifice.