Morrill was a 12 year old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to Washington, D.C. It was a trip he would never forget, and his stop at Arlington National Cemetery made an indelible impression on the young lad from Maine. The experience followed him throughout his life. As he became a successful businessman, he remembered that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice and were resting for eternity in Arlington. Merrill would find a way to honor them. That is why Merrill Worcester is this week’s Sunday Spotlight.
Morrill Worcester is the owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine. In 1992, Morrill found himself with a surplus of wreaths near the end of the holiday season. He remembered that trip to D.C., and with the help of his state senator, arrangements were made to transport those wreaths to Arlington. The wreaths were placed on the stones in one of the older sections that saw fewer visitors each year.
That act of respect and love for those who had given their all began Wreaths Across America.
The annual tribute went on quietly until 2005 when the now famous picture I have used as the feature image of this article appeared on the internet. Instantly, thousands of requests poured in from across the country from people who wanted to emulate the wreath-laying in their local veteran’s cemeteries. In 2006, wreaths were placed in 150 locations; today, that number has grown to over 1,000 cemeteries nationwide. Each year, a wreath from upstate Maine is also laid on every stone in Arlington. In 2014, Morrill’s goal of adorning the over 225,000 stones in Arlington National Cemetery was met.
What started as a small gesture has become a nationwide effort by thousands of volunteers, along with the generous help of dozens of organizations, including the trucking industry, that help to transport these wreaths from Maine to their various destinations. Each year, on the second or third Saturday in December, these trucks depart Harrington and form the largest Veteran’s Parade in the country, as these trucks branch out across this land.
Morrill Worcester is a true Patriot with immense love for this country that has afforded so much for him and his family. He shares that love and patriotism with the many programs he has started to teach the younger generation about the history of the men and women who have died for us. WAA works to create opportunities to connect “the Greatest Generation” with the “Generation of Hope,” passing on inspirational stories from World War II veterans to the young leaders of the future.
Morrill Worcester teaches us a great lesson with Wreaths across America. He has shown that one man with a vision and drive can impact a country and its people. A man with a dream has grown into a volunteer army of thousands who share his love, patriotism, and desire to honor every man and woman who has given their life to preserve the freedom we enjoy.
You can help by going to wreathsacrossAmerica.org and donating or volunteering to help. Hopefully, Morrill’s dream will live on for years to come as an annual act of patriotism to honor our fallen brothers and sisters.