Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America was first inspired when Morrill Worcester, then a 12-year-old paperboy, won a trip to Washington, D.C.

Years later, in 1992, Worcester, then a successful businessman, found himself with an excess of wreaths around the holiday season, and saw an opportunity.

With help from Maine Senator Olympia Snowe and the Maine State Society of D.C., those extra wreaths were placed on gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery, and it was then that Worcester vowed to honor veterans every year.

By 2006 he had expanded his wreath donations nationwide. Today, Wreaths Across America is the non-profit organization best known for placing wreaths on veteran’s headstones at Arlington National Cemetery.

In 2020, the organization placed more than 1.7 million sponsored veterans’ wreaths at 2,557 participating locations nationwide.

Two of those locations this year will be the Edon Union Cemetery and St. Joseph Cemetery in Blakeslee, according to Penny Eicher Burlew, a local Wreaths Across America coordinator.

Burlew said she got involved with Wreaths Across America at Edon Union Cemetery last year, and added St. Joseph Cemetery in Blakeslee this year. She got involved following the example of her sister, Tarry Eicher, of Montpelier, who lost her son, Marine Corps Sgt. Michael Paul Hodshire, in Iraq in 2005. Eicher organizes Wreaths Across America at Riverside Cemetery in Montpelier.

Burlew said she is in the process of collecting sponsorships for 290 wreaths to be placed at veterans’ gravesites in the Edon/Florence Township cemetery and 60 at St. Joseph Cemetery in Blakeslee.

As of late Monday, she has about 120 wreath sponsorships for the Edon Union Cemetery and about 29 for St. Joseph Cemetery.

“We’ve raised about $1,770 so far,” she said, adding the goal is wreaths for every veteran’s gravesite, plus a seven-wreath installation at the flagpole of each cemetery, “so each branch (of the military) is represented.”

The goal is to place the wreaths in the local cemeteries at the same time as the National Remembrance Ceremony, which is 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18.

“It’s so important. Our veterans have given us so much; We need to honor their sacrifices,” Burlew said.

For more information on Wreaths Across America log on to: https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org, or Facebook Message Burlew on her Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/penny.burlew.

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