There are some stories that touch the heart in many different ways. The story of Morrill Worcestor and the Worcester Wreath Company
of Harrington, Maine, Founders of Wreaths Across America, is one of those stories. This tale is about a child's memories, a fortuitous surplus of christmas wreaths, generous volunteers and a sincere desire that those who gave their all should not be forgotten.
The paper boy is one of the iconic American symbols, representing the traditional American belief that hard work will bring success. When Morrill Worcestor, the owner of welcome wreaths
, was only 12, he was a real-life example of a hard-working paper boy, delivering enough papers for the Bangor Daily News to win a trip to the nation's capitol. Arlington National Cemetery, final resting place of countless American heroes and two presidents, left an unforgettable impression on a young boy from Maine.
Fast forward to 1992. Morrill Worcestor is still a hard worker, but instead of delivering
papers, he is now the owner of Worcester Wreath, supplying handmade fresh balsam wreaths and other christmas decorations. It's impossible to predict exactly how many wreaths will be sold, and in 1992, there were many fresh, green wreaths still unsold as the holiday season was drawing to a close. What does one do with a truckload or more of wreaths? If you're Morrill Worcester, you remember that long-ago trip to Arlington National Cemetery and realize that these wreaths can become a tribute to almost-forgotten heroes.
Arlington National Cemetery is huge, a sobering reminder that each headstone in those endless rows stands as an eternal reminder of a valiant young American who bravely fought to protect the rights of all of us. In the older sections of the cemetery, few people visit these graves any longer. Morrill enlisted the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, trucker James Prout and a large number of American Legion and VFW volunteers, who added a hand-tied red bow to each wreath.
In Washington, D.C., the wreath-laying ceremony, including a poignant ceremony held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was conducted by members of the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. Wreaths decorated a large number of the oldest graves, a thank you and remembrance of unknown deeds of valor.
For several years, Morrill quietly carried on this brand-new tradition, supplying wreaths each Christmas season for an ever-increasing number of veteran's graves. Then in 2005, an internet photo of row after row of Arlington headstones in the snow, each with a green wreath and red bow, went viral. Suddenly, thousands of people wanted to know how they could help.
By 2007, Morrill's wreath-laying endeavor had become too large for one small family business and the non-profit 501-c3 Wreaths Across America was formed. The ultimate goal is to eventually be able to lay a wreath on each veteran's grave, wherever it may be.