Arlington wreaths make stop on KI
STEVENSVILLE — The extensive motorcade of trucks from Wreaths Across America made a stop overnight Thursday, Dec. 13, to Friday, Dec. 14, at the Kent Island American Legion Post 278.
Members of the legion, along with law enforcement officers from across the East Coast, gathered to the accolades of hundreds of school children lining state Route 8 outside the legion hall waving American flags. The heavy fog Friday morning delayed county schools opening, but families still managed a good turnout to cheer on the convoy.
Wreaths were provided by Morrill and Karen Worchester of the Worchester Wreath Company in Maine for the 10th year to be placed on every grave at Arlington National Cemetery. A donation also was given to Post 278 to ensure almost 92 percent of the costs for wreaths for next year.
“We did something that felt good for our family, but this isn’t about us, it’s about you,” Karen Worchester said. “People like those in the American Legion are Wreaths Across America and that convoy connects the dots. Any naysayers who talk about that this country is or what it can be should see what’s happening here.”
Worchester said that Wreaths Across America is more than just about the yearly pilgrimage to Arlington National Cemetery. Throughout the trip, she noted the numerous people that have approached the family are surprised by the number of the fallen soldiers honored.
Aside members of the military, members of the legion also took time to honor fallen police officers, naming those lost in and out of the line of duty. Among the departments in attendance were the Westbrook police in Maine, police from Montgomery County and the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office.
“If you don’t tear up when you see all these people outside and these kids, you know what it’s all about,” post officer Ron Mcginn said. “We hope that continues on and we can’t forget those veterans here and those across the ocean in places like Normandy where people don’t visit them. We’re going to keep it going and include every (grave).”
The legion provided members of the convoy with dinner Thursday and breakfast Friday, plus a bag lunch for each person for the road.
Plans included an escort to the Capital Plaza Mall and then a ceremony at the Pentagon. Then patrons went to the Vietnam Memorial, Korean War Memorial, World War II Memorial.
In 2008, over 300 locations held wreath-laying ceremonies in every state, Puerto Rico and 24 overseas cemeteries. Over 100,000 wreaths were placed on veterans’ graves. More than 60,000 volunteers participated. That same year, Dec. 13, 2008 was unanimously voted by Congress as “Wreaths Across America Day.”
In 2014, Wreaths Across America and its national network of volunteers laid more than 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 locations in the United States and beyond, including ceremonies at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, as well as Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and the sites of the Sept. 11 attacks.
This was accomplished with help from 2,047 fundraising groups, corporate contributions, and donations of trucking, shipping, and thousands of helping hands. The organization’s goal of covering Arlington National Cemetery was met in 2014 with the placement of 226,525 wreaths.
The wreath-laying is still held annually, on the second or third Saturday of December. The annual pilgrimage from Harrington, Maine, to Arlington National Cemetery has become known as the world’s largest veterans’ parade, stopping at schools, monuments, veterans’ homes and communities all along the way.
From left, American Legion Post 278 officer Ron Mcginn, Karen Worchester of Worchester Wreath Company, American Legion Post 278 officer Nikki Randolph, and Morrill Worchester of Worchester Wreath Company celebrate the donation to the legion to continue contributing to the charity.
Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann, center, and County Commissioner Chris Corchiarino, third from left, greet students along the road as they wait for the convoy to pass.
The Wreaths Across America convoy departs for Arlington National Cemetery Friday morning, Dec. 14.
Police escorts were welcomed by students and members of the public waving flags and cheering as the convoy began.