I’ve been thinking about … Wreaths Across America.
A long time ago, a 12-year-old boy in Maine, by the name of Merrill Worcester, won a trip to Washington, D.C., that included a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. He was deeply moved by the experience and it stayed with him. Many years later, in 1992 when his business, Worcester Wreath Company, had a big surplus of wreaths, he remembered the visit to Arlington and decided to decorate an older part of the National Cemetery that received few visitors. It was his adult way of expressing his 12-year-old understanding that his good fortune was due to traditional American values and the sacrifices of our soldiers through all the years.
He has come to believe that, “A person dies twice. Once when they take their final breath and later, the last time their name is spoken.” That’s why, as each wreath is laid on the third Saturday in December, all over America, the soldier’s name will be spoken out loud.
Mr. Worcester had trucker friends who were willing to deliver the wreaths to Arlington and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and many individual volunteers to place the wreaths. This beautiful project went on quietly until 2005 when someone posted a picture of the displayed wreathes with their red bows against the newly fallen snow at Arlington. The power of that picture has propelled Wreaths Across America into all 50 states.
The project’s goal — to remember, to honor and to teach — is a lesson learned by the thousands of volunteers who decorate veteran graves on the same day every year, the third Saturday in December, this year Dec. 16. In addition to the various military organizations that participate, many youth groups take part including the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of America, the Civil Air Patrol, many school groups, sports teams and choruses.
Wreaths Across America is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when one person believes in something so strongly that he motivates other people to help get it done.
This year, the 1,300 cemeteries that will be decorated include our own Deer Park Methodist Cemetery at 2200 Sykesville Road in Smallwood, the first in Carroll County to participate. The program, led by Mel Blizzard, will begin at noon and include a color guard provided by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem sung by this writer. Taps will be played by Trent Longest, a student at Manchester Valley High School. Del. Haven Shoemaker, Carroll County Commissioner Richard Weaver and Pastor John Dean have agreed to say a few words.
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We hope that many citizens will want to see this important and moving community ceremony honoring just some of our Carroll County heroes. All military services and MIA/prisoners of war will be represented with a special wreaths presentations. There are 140 graves of veterans at Deer Park Methodist Cemetery and the goal is to place a wreath on each one of them. Anyone wishing to purchase a wreath for the local celebration may go to wreaths.fastport.com and search “Deer Park” or “Westminster” then click on “donate.” The cost is $15 per wreath. The deadline for purchasing a wreath is Monday, Nov. 27.