Above, Arlington National Cemetery during the 2016 Wreaths Across America Day.
This Saturday, December 15, is National Wreaths Across America Memorial Day, when hundreds of thousands of holiday wreaths are laid in tribute to U.S. veterans. This year, more than 1.8 million wreaths will be placed by two million volunteers at 1,640 locations worldwide. According to Amber Caron, WAA's director of communications, children accounted for nearly one-third of the volunteers last year.
Per the organization's website, the tradition started in 1992 when Morrill Worcester, the owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, made arrangements to take a surplus of wreaths his company left over after the holiday season and lay them on the headstones in an older, less-visited section of Arlington National Cemetery. A local trucking company donated transportation services, and volunteers helped place the wreaths.
The tradition continued quietly for years, until a photo of Arlington decorated with the wreaths went viral in 2005. The Worcester family was subsequently inundated with requests from Americans across the country to participate in the tribute. In 2007, they helped form the Wreaths Across America nonprofit, and the scope of the project expanded considerably. The next year, Congress unanimously voted to designate December 13, 2008 as “Wreaths Across America Day.”
Tomorrow, Steve Schildhauer of Sidney, Neb.-a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Army-will drive the Honor Truck carrying a load of fresh balsam wreaths from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery as part of the Annual Wreath Escort. Ceremonies will also take place at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, as well as Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, and the sites of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Wreath sponsorship is open year-round. Although this year's wreaths have already shipped, you still can donate to next year's tribute.
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