Every year, hundreds of thousands of wreaths are laid on the graves of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery in what is now one of the great traditions of our county: Wreaths Across America. I am honored to be participating in its 25th annual event this Saturday.
Before it became a national tradition, Wreaths Across America was an idea born from a local Maine family and business from Machias. Morrill and Karen Worcester started the event in 1992, when their Washington County business, Worcester Wreath Company, had a surplus of wreaths at the end of the holiday season. Morrill, recalling his boyhood visit to Arlington National Cemetery, decided to donate 5,000 wreaths to be laid on graves at the cemetery.
Since then, Wreaths Across America has become a part of our nation’s tradition, as now thousands of American families come to Arlington every year to lay more than 225,000 wreaths at the cemetery. In addition, the ceremony has grown across the country, as now hundreds of Veteran cemeteries from coast to coast carry on the tradition. In fact, Congress voted unanimously in 2008 to make the day officially known as “Wreaths Across America Day.”
This event is special to so many Veterans and citizens across our country. It is a great tradition to honor the men and women of our Armed Forces that made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom.
To recognize this annual tradition and to honor our fallen soldiers, I have requested a World War II aircraft flyover to commemorate the 25th anniversary of this event. I was very pleased that this request was granted and I am looking forward to seeing the flyover at this weekend’s ceremony.
As Wreaths Across America reaches its quarter-century mark, I think this flyover will be a fitting way to fully appreciate the ceremony and to honor our fallen military men and women, those serving now, and our Veterans. It is an honor to carry on this Maine tradition.
Thank you to all our Veterans for your service to a grateful Nation.