Wreaths Across America: Ceremony makes its way to Moffat County for second year in a row
Moffat County is set to join in on a nationwide tradition on Saturday at the Craig (Fairview) Cemetery for the second straight year.
Wreaths Across America, founded by Morrill Worchester, the owner of Worcester Wreath Company, will take place Saturday, Dec. 19 at the cemetery, starting at 10 a.m. with Frank Sadvar of the local Elks chapter leading the way.
This year, after having just 45 wreaths last year in its first year participating, the Craig Elks Lodge will have 508 live, balsam veterans’ wreaths to place on the graves of veterans. In total, Craig Cemetery has 783 service members buried there.
When Worcester was a 12-year-old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News in Harrington, Maine, when he won a trip to Washington D.C. His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. That experience followed him throughout his life and successful career, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Due to that experience as a young boy, years later as the owner and operator of Worcester Wreath, Worcester found the company with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season in 1992.
Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor the country’s veterans. With the aid of then-Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.
As plans were underway that year, a number of other individuals and organizations stepped up to help. A local trucking company in Maine generously provided transportation all the way to Virginia. Volunteers from the Maine American Legion and VFW Posts gathered with members of the community to decorate each wreath with traditional red, hand-tied bows. Members of the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. helped to organize the wreath-laying, which included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Worcester’s annual tribute went on quietly for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet. Suddenly, the project received national attention. Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington, to emulate the Arlington project at their National and State cemeteries, or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for honoring our nation’s heroes.
This year, the ceremonies that are held across the country at more than 2,400 participating locations may look a bit different as local nonprofits is making every effort to meet CDC recommended safety guidelines while also adhering to state, local, and cemetery safety measures that have been implemented due to COVID-19.
“It is important during challenging times we all take a moment to remember those who have met and overcome challenges – like our nation’s military and their families – and show unity in our American spirit while we work together in an effort to march forward in the face of what seems to be insurmountable odds,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America in a written statement. “We are so grateful to the good people of this great nation for participating in the mission to remember, honor and teach.”
Despite the changes to this year’s ceremony, Wreaths Across America is gaining traction in Craig.
“We want it to be as big as we can,” Sadvar said. “We want it to be a money-maker for the Elks, and want to show support to the vets.”
Saturday’s ceremony will start at 10 a.m. The Elks will place wreaths Friday at 10 a.m. Please contact Michelle Gonzalez at 970-270-7275 if you would like to volunteer to lay wreaths on Friday.
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