Largo, FL 2159

Largo, FL Lodge News

Wreaths Across America ceremony at Bay Pines Cemetery

Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Bay Pines Cemetery

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This year several members of the Largo Elks Veterans Committee participated in the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Bay Pines Cemetery. Bob Behm, Eric and Mary Salaby, Noreen Locke and our newest member Dave Mason, pictures below.

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, 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 our country’s veterans. With the aid 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 that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.

As plans were underway, a number of other individuals and organizations stepped up to help. James Prout, owner of local trucking company Blue Bird Ranch, Inc., generously provided transportation all the way to Virginia. Volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW Posts gathered with members of the community to decorate each wreath with traditional red, hand-tied bows. Members of the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. helped to organize the wreath-laying, which included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 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 our nation’s heroes. Unable to donate thousands of wreaths to each state, 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. The annual trip to Arlington and the groups of volunteers eager to participate in Worcester’s simple wreath-laying event grew each year until it became clear the desire to remember and honor our country’s fallen heroes was bigger than Arlington, and bigger than this one company.

In 2007, the Worcester family, along with veterans, and other groups and individuals who had helped with their annual veteran’s wreath ceremony in Arlington, formed Wreaths Across America, a non-profit 501-(c)(3) organization, to continue and expand this effort, and support other groups around the country who wanted to do the same. This year across the United States, volunteers honored Veterans by placing wreaths at about 2.7 million gravesites in 3,702 locations on Wreath Across America Day, Dec. 17.

As each wreath was carefully placed, the volunteer says the name of 
the deceased veteran’s name out loud, ensuring their memory lives on. The sad thing was that the Wreaths are purchased by donations and there were not enough wreaths for every grave this year especially at our own Veterans Cemetery Bay Pines. Next year maybe you might go to the website for Wreaths Across America Website and purchase a wreath to honor our Veteran’s and maybe also participate in a Wreath Laying event.


Surviving Spouse Liaison / Personal Affairs Officer - Past President
Military Officers Association of America - Clearwater Chapter
Largo Elks 2159 Veterans Committee Chairman
City of Largo Veterans Committee