Despite the bone-chilling weather and a steady icy rain, Karen and Morrill Worcester joined a crowd at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial on Saturday to remember those who died in the 2001 terror attack and to lay wreaths on the graves of men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice throughout the nation’s history.
The Worcesters have for more than two decades placed wreaths on the graves of the fallen at Arlington Cemetery — the final resting place for more than 400,000 American warriors.
Six years ago their Wreaths Across America project added the Pentagon for special recognition of the victims who perished when a plane hit the nation’s military headquarters on Sept. 11, 2001.
“After 9/11 Morrill really wanted to include this site and this memorial as part of our Wreaths Across America event where we remember to honor and teach — because of what happened here,” Karen told Breitbart News. “The heroes that died that day represent so much.”
Karen also said 9/11 changed the United States forever but serves as a reminder of our blessings as Americans.
And, Karen said, the role of Wreaths Across America at the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial is to “call attention to how fragile freedom is and for most of us the 9/11 event was the first time ever that we felt unsafe.”
On Saturday, wreaths were hung around the memorial at the Pentagon, while on Sunday, Wreaths Across America volunteers will place wreaths on all of the graves at Arlington Cemetery.
But, Karen said, this is not about decorating gravesites, but rather a way to keep the memory of these fallen soldiers alive forever.
“A person dies twice: once when they take their final breath, and later, the last time their name is spoken,” Karen said. “We ask them to say the name of the solider that’s on the headstone.”
The story about Wreaths Across America is just an inspiring as the honor the project gives to veterans. As a child Morrill visited Arlington Cemetery, and he has been in awe ever since.
In 1992, Worcester Wreath — the company Morrill founded in his home state of Maine — had a surplus of wreaths. Rather than waste the beautiful holiday treats, Morrill reached out to former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) to arrange to have them placed on graves at Arlington Cemetery.
The Wreaths Across America website states:
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 project has grown from those 5,000 wreaths placed by the Worcester family and friends to 1.5 million wreaths placed at Arlington and 1,400 other cemeteries around the country.
“It was going to be a one-time thing, and it ended up that it was so well received that we just didn’t want to stop,” Morrill told Breitbart News.
This year’s theme is “I’m an American, Yes I Am,” and is in keeping with Wreaths Across America’s mission.
“We’re celebrating our country, we’re celebrating the character of the men and women in our country that served, and we’re giving their families a big hug,” Karen said.