By Brett Gillin
As the holiday season approaches, more and more people are looking for ways to spread a little cheer in any way that they can. One non-profit organization called Wreaths Across America started their own tradition over 20 years ago which touches the lives of many. Starting last week, volunteers with the non-profit organization put together a convoy of tractor-trailers, loaded them with around 100,000 small green wreaths tied with red ribbons, and has begun visiting veteran’s cemeteries throughout the United States.
When it all started back in 1992, Wreaths Across America decided they would make it their mission to place a wreath on every gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery. Now, after over twenty years, they have expanded to over 900 cemeteries nationwide, with the goal of laying out over 500,000 wreaths! And it is the small acts such as these that make a world of difference to the families of these fallen soldiers year after year. As you can see in these videos, these families who have lost a loved one are extremely grateful for the actions of these volunteers.
Last week, the yearly convoy hit the road in Maine, travelling the country to begin their work. Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America, spoke to CBS Local in Boston about this year’s effort. We have amazing people traveling with us on the convoy.” She continued “When we go to Arlington, we place the wreath and we speak the name of somebody’s loved one. It’s the least we can do.”
Unfortunately, this year, donations to Wreaths Across America were way down, especially those donating directly to the Arlington National Cemetery ceremony. Worcester told CBS Boston that she believes this has to do with the fact that so many people have been donating to their local cemeteries (which make up those 900 plus that Wreaths Across America now covers) and not the national cemetery in Arlington.
Despite being around 20,000 wreaths short of their goal, Worcester and the rest of the volunteers are optimistic that a last minute surge will help them achieve their goals. In fact, as of the writing of this article, many donations were still coming in. Barbara Benard, a mother who lost her son eight years ago in Iraq, might have said it best when she said “It’s not about just laying a wreath at Arlington, it’s about paying respect.”