Pierre Claeyssens, who was rescued by U.S.
Forces in Belgium said,
“To be killed in war is not the worst that
can happen. To be lost is not the worst that can happen…to
be forgotten is the worst.”
Wreaths Across America (WAA)
is a national non-profit organization best
known for remembering fallen veterans with wreaths placed
each December at Arlington
However, the organization is much more.
As of 2022, the nonprofit placed more than
2.4 million sponsored veterans’ wreaths
at over 3,200
participating locations throughout the
US and abroad while offering various year-long programs.
These programs help live a mission to
Remember, Honor and Teach.
In the beginning, founder, Morrill Worcester,
a 12-year-old paper boy for the Bangor
won a trip to Washington D.C., where
Arlington National Cemetery became an inspirational
His pilgrimage served as a consistent
reminder, through career and life, that opportunities
stemmed from the values and freedom afforded to us by our
After years of hard work,
Morrill founded Worcester
in Harrington, Maine. In 1992, Worcester
had a surplus. Morrill saw this as his
opportunity to honor our veterans with hopes of returning to
With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe
(ret.), the first 5,000 wreaths were placed that year at
Arlington National Cemetery.
plans were underway, other individuals and organizations
shared Morrill’s spirit and working together built an annual
mission that went unnoticed for many years.
2005, a photo surfaced of Arlington covered in snow,
adorned with wreaths.
This picture became a viral internet
sensation before there was even such a marketing term.
After, thousands of requests poured in, from
people wanting to help emulate the Arlington success on the
local level, prompting the official formation of Wreaths
Across America the national nonprofit in 2007.
The newly formed 501c3 began its national
effort by sending seven ceremonial wreaths to every state
(one for each branch of the military,
and for POW/MIAs)
. The ceremonies took place in nearly all of
the 50 states and Washington, D.C., with a focus on family
during the holidays.
As the organization grew from volunteer
support, a network of local groups and cemetery locations
began to emerge.
Simultaneously, groups began to escort the
wreaths to Arlington. This started an annual tradition
“The Veterans Honor Parade”
which travels the east coast in early
This part of the mission grew into a
multi-mile long convoy which acts
as an ambassador by stopping at schools, monuments,
veterans’ homes and local communities as the mission of the
organization is shared.
In 2008, over 60,000 volunteers helped move
the mission, placing 100,000 wreaths on veterans’
headstones. Recognizing the organizations impact, the United
States Congress unanimously voted to declare
“National Wreaths Across America
to be held annually, on the second or
third Saturday of December.
British street artist Bansky once wrote,
say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a
second time, when somebody says your name for the last
it wasn’t enough to say
“we covered Arlington”
because that’s a mission half completed. When
a volunteer places a wreath on a veteran's headstone,
WAA encourages them to speak that
veteran's name aloud, thank them for their service and
sacrifice, reflect on their life as person and member of a
loving family and never let that service member die a second
time, including all 226,525 at Arlington starting in 2014,
and millions more at cemeteries nationwide.
Presently a small, but dedicated staff and
more than 7,000 core volunteers across the country, work
tirelessly on year-long programs that help accomplish this
That number grows to more than 2
million, a third of whom are children, who participate in
the annual wreath laying events nationwide! These programs
are designed to help highlight the awe-inspiring work of our
volunteer groups and locations, civic groups, supporters,
donors, and others that enable this mission to flourish
regardless of challenges and changes.
Some of these programs include the following…
Group Sponsorship Program
In 2007, when Wreaths Across America expanded
its annual wreath placement event to enable groups and
organizations to support Arlington National Cemetery and
other local, participating cemeteries across the country.
The organization established the Group
Sponsorship Program to benefit other like-minded charities,
community programs and civic groups through the sale of
wreath sponsorships for participating locations.
Through this, WAA invites other group or
organizations to help in remembering and honoring our
American heroes and teaching the next generation, through
raising funds to sponsor veterans’ wreaths.
As a Wreaths Across America Group Sponsorship
partner, your organization will receive $5-of-each-$15
wreath sponsorship to support your important work while
sponsoring a veterans’ wreath.
Since its start, WAA has given back more
than $17M to other groups.
AFSA is one of WAA’s newest Sponsorship
By sponsoring a wreath through AFSA, you will
place a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and give $5
back to the organization to use for its own mission.
Donate today at
Wreaths Across America Museum
Located in the WAA National Headquarters at 4 Point Street
in Columbia Falls, Maine, the Museum is an 1,800-square-foot
facility showcasing hundreds of items that have been donated
to Wreaths Across America by its volunteers, including
personal photos, awards, uniforms, helmets and other
The Museum is open year-round with visiting
hours Monday through Friday, from 9AM to 4PM.
Mobile Education Exhibit
In addition to the Maine museum, Chevy
dealers of New England donated the Wreaths Across America
Mobile Education Exhibit, a 48’exhibit is equipped with a
24-person screening room, interactive computers, and history
This traveling exhibit extends the
mission to by traveling to local communities, schools and
The Remembrance Tree Program
Throughout the year, Gold
Star Families are
invited to the “tip-land,” where balsam tips are harvested
to be made into veterans’ wreaths. These family members are
invited to claim a tree in the name of their loved one with
military-style replica dog-tag creating a living memorial
for that service member.
These dog tags and tree locations are
recorded and geo-tracked so the families sponsored wreaths
can be made from those trees and revisited by loved ones
over the years. WAA Executive director Karen Worcester once
“There are few things more moving than
hearing the sound of thousands of these tags chiming in
unison from a gentle breeze on a quiet evening in Maine.”
Stem to Stone 5k Races
As the Mobile Education exhibit travels the
country, so too does our series of 5K races that we call
“Stem to Stone” Races.
The Stem to Stone name refers to the
balsam bouquets trimmed from trees that make up the wreaths
laid at cemeteries all across America, and Stone refers to
the actual headstones of the soldiers. The 5k is reminiscent
of basic training runs and allows participants to get a
small taste of what our heroes have endured as they train
Wreaths Across America Radio
This 24/7 internet radio station has a unique
format that mixes country, rock, bluegrass, Americana,
information and inspiring content about members of the U.S.
armed forces, their families, military veterans, and
volunteers who support the mission. Special segments
and programs include:
Across America’s Executive Director, Karen Worcester,
interviews families who have impacted the mission, members
of the military community, and Gold Star Families.
She shares those discussions with the
public Wednesdays at 10 AM, and again at 7:00 PM EST.
Cup of Joe Radio
- The purpose of this broadcast is to
support military veterans worldwide. Show hosts Mike
Spotswood (USMC) along with his wife Irene and weekly
contributors Doug Bradley (U.S. Army-retired) and Jerry
Lamerton (U.S.Army-retired) are passionate about the mission
to Remember, Honor, and Teach while entertaining with music.
The program airs twice on Fridays, from 4-6 PM EDT,
and again Friday night from 9-11PM EDT.
a radio feature highlighting the support Wreaths Across
America receives from the trucking industry.
Kid's Corner - Wreaths
Across America is recognizes youth volunteers monthly who do
their part to make sure no hometown hero is forgotten.
The 100-Day Countdown to National Wreaths
Across America Day - A
daily segment on the morning show with Michael W. Hale
counting down 100 days until Wreath Day 2020, featuring
interviews with group and location volunteers who are making
the mission happen in their communities!
All these year-long programs and
participating locations across the country of this young
organization would not be possible, or successful, without
the help of volunteers, active supporters and donors, and
the generosity of the trucking industry, which offer
invaluable support to WAA's mission to remember the men and
women who served our country, honor our military and their
families and teach our children about our freedom and those
who protect it.
If you want to help honor our veterans,
please support the mission by sponsoring a wreath or
registering to volunteering to place wreaths at www.wreathscarossamerica.org/AFSA
or find up a participating Location near you to support at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.
Each sponsorship goes toward a fresh balsam
veteran’s wreath that will be placed on the headstone of an
American hero as we endeavor to honor all fallen veterans
Saturday, December 17, 2022,
as part of National Wreaths Across