Ar­ling­ton wreaths make stop on KI

Record Observer - - COMMUNITY - By KRIS­TIAN JAIME [email protected]­pub.com

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.

PHO­TOS BY KRIS­TIAN JAIME

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.

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