Several years ago, a truckload of over 5,000 balsam tree branches was about to go to waste, but Morrill Worcester knew exactly how to put them to good use as the owner of the Worcester Wreath Company.
Worcester's idea to place wreaths upon veterans' graves was sparked by his patriotism and deep appreciation for those who died to protect America's freedom. With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, many volunteers placed them on graves at the Arlington National Cemetery.
The Wreaths Across America story began as a small-scale event in December 1992 and has grown into a beloved international symbol for honoring a veteran's life and service, especially given through sacrifice. Approximately 1.6 million wreaths have been placed on graves throughout over 1,400 locations in all 50 U.S. states, veteran cemeteries in foreign lands and at sea.
A veteran's wreath is made up of 10 balsam branches and according to Worcester, each branch helps describe the characteristics and qualities that make up an American veteran.
- The first branch stands for the veteran's faith in God.
- The second branch stands for the love for one another.
- The third branch stands for the veteran's strength, work ethic and character.
- The fourth branch stands for the veteran's honesty and integrity.
- The fifth branch stands for the veteran's humility, selflessness and modesty.
- The sixth branch stands for the veteran's ambitions and aspirations.
- The seventh branch stands for the veteran's optimism for his or her fellow Americans and for our country.
- The eighth branch stands for the veteran's concern for the future and future generations.
- The ninth branch stands for the veteran's pride in carrying out his or her duties.
- The 10th and final branch stands for the veteran's hopes and dreams that did not always come true but left him or her with no regrets. Read more.