Honoring our heroes

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, November 20, 2012

WINDSOR – A memorial program is preparing its second year in Windsor.

Wreaths Across America is currently asking for local citizens to join them in honoring and remembering veterans and laying wreaths at Edgewood Cemetery in Windsor.

Remember, honor and teach is the mission of Wreaths Across America and it came to Edgewood Cemetery in Windsor last December. In one of hundreds of ceremonies across the country, locals took time to remember veterans and lay wreaths on the graves of those who have died.

Len Joyner and her family were the leaders of the celebration and are planning a similar event on Dec. 15 of this year.

Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, was a 12 year old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to Washington D.C. His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career in business, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor the country’s veterans.

With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery, a section which had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.

The annual tribute went on quietly for several years until 2005 when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet.  Suddenly, the project received national attention.

Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington, to emulate the Arlington project at their National and State cemeteries, or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for honoring the nation’s heroes.

Unable to donate thousands of wreaths nationwide, Worcester began sending seven wreaths to every state, one for each branch of the military, and for POW/MIAs.

In 2006, with the help of the Civil Air Patrol and other civic organizations, simultaneous wreath laying ceremonies were held at over 150 locations around the country. The Patriot Guard Riders volunteered as escort for the wreaths going to Arlington. This began the annual “Veterans Honor Parade” that travels the east coast in early December.

Last year, Joyner and her family helped lead the observation in Windsor by holding a small ceremony and the laying of wreaths on the graves of veterans who were buried in Edgewood.

This year, Joyner is spearheading the group again and hopes to have even more participation.

Those wishing to purchase wreaths for laying on the graves can do so by filing out a sponsorship form at www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org. Wreaths are $15 each and the Sponsoring Group ID number in Windsor is NCJHG01. The Cemetery ID is NCEWCW.

The form can also be accessed at www.r-cnews.com as an attachment to this story.