Falls City’s Steele Cemetery hosted “Wreaths Across America,” a wreath-laying ceremony to honor veterans in each branch of the military, prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action, Saturday.
The Patriot Guard Riders who participated in the ceremony were Gene Strauss, Gene Ramer and Eli Ramer. VFW Auxilary women who participated in the ceremony were Vicky Zeigler, Doris Erickson, Marilyn Capps, Gail Froeschl, Betty Massey, Phyllis Kreutzer, Carla Capps, Anita Nolte and Charlotte Gentry.
“Wreaths Across America” was started in 1992 by Morrill Worchester, owner of the Worchester Wreath Co., of Harrington, ME. Finding themselves with a surplus of wreaths that year and nearing the end of the holiday season, Worchester decided to honor our country’s veterans. With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington Cemetery in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had seen a drop in 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 covered in snow, circulated around the Internet. The project suddenly received national attention. Thousands of requests were made from people wanting to help at Arlington, to emulate the project at their National and State cemeteries or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worchester for honoring our nation’s heroes. Unable to donate wreaths to each state, Worchester began sending seven wreaths to each state: one for each branch of the military.
In 2006, simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies were held at more than 150 locations around the country. The Patriot Guard Riders volunteered as an escort for the wreaths en route to Arlington. This began the annual “Veterans Honor Parade” that travels the east coast in early December.
In 2008 Congress unanimously voted Dec. 13 as “Wreaths Across America Day.” The wreath laying ceremony is held annually, on the second or third Saturday of December.
For more information you can visit the Wreaths Across America website at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org