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December 20, 2007 - A Magnificent Mission

I was in Washington, DC a few days before Christmas, and while I was there, I learned of a Christmas story that must be shared across America.  Talking to some friends at the Department of Agriculture, they told me they visit Arlington National Cemetery every year at Christmas time because of what happens there.  Row after row of the bleached white stone grave markers are decorated with evergreen wreaths festooned with red bows.

When I returned home, I went to the web-site on the internet of 'Wreaths Across America' and the photographs on the web-site are stunning, because you see all of the white stone markers in snow covered Arlington Cemetery with the magnificent green wreaths and the red bows.  So what is the story?

The ‘Wreaths Across America’ story started over fifteen years ago when Worcester Wreath Company, a for-profit commercial business located in Harrington, Maine, began a tradition of placing wreaths on the headstones of our nation’s fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery. In a phone conversation with owner Morrill Worcester, he told me he had visited Arlington Cemetery when he was in grade school and it made a lasting impression. Fifteen years ago, when he had a surplus of unsold wreaths, he loaded 5,000 of them on a truck, drove from Maine to the cemetery and began placing them on the stone markers. Arlington officials were skeptical at first and  were concerned about who would take them away when the Christmas season ended, but Morrill said when they saw the beauty of his work, they thanked him and said they would take care of the clean-up.

Up to this year, Worcester Wreath Company has donated 75,000 wreaths and Morrill told me he doubled his contribution this year to 10,000 wreaths which were placed on the markers by school children and volunteers on December 15th. In addition to the Arlington project, the company donated 2,500 wreaths to the Maine Veterans Cemetery in that state and over 1,800 ceremonial wreaths representing all branches of the armed forces were sent to over 200 other state and national veteran cemeteries across the country.  Morrill will be getting additional help with his annual project with the founding this year of the ‘Wreaths Across America’ organization. The not-for-profit foundation states its mission this way... Remember - Honor - Teach. Remember the fallen; Honor those who serve; Teach our Children the value of freedom. The story and photos can be found on their website, www. wreaths-across-america.org.

Morrill started his company in 1971 and today is the largest producer of balsam wreaths and Christmas centerpieces in the country, shipping nation-wide, with L.L. Bean  serving as his largest distributor. His loyal employees care for 4,100 acres of balsam trees and every year plant 50,000 new trees.

What a magnificent gift to honor those who made it possible for us to celebrate Christmas and every other holiday in this country!  Congratulations and thank you for remembering, honoring and teaching.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.


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