Anchor Staff Writer
In 1992, Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, found himself with a surplus of wreaths. Thinking about what to do with the excess wreaths, he thought back to when he was a young boy and he visited Washington D.C. Worcester gathered a team of people and began to quietly place wreaths on the soldiers’ graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Over the next few years, as more people took note and word spread, thousands of people began asking if they could donate a wreath, and thus Wreaths Across America was born.
What started as a small gesture, has turned into a large movement. Wreaths Across America Day is recognized nationally on the third Saturday of December every year. The parade of wreaths still begins in Harrington, Maine. Not only are wreaths laid at Arlington, but now at over 1,000 veteran cemeteries throughout the country.
Wreaths Across America has one major important goal: To remind people to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices that our soldiers have made for this country. Every year there is a new theme, the 2022 theme is “find a way to serve.” The theme was inspired by The American Rosie Movement, which highlights stories from World War II, like that of Rosie the Riveter; women who worked together and did what was needed to help keep our freedom.
One local school, Goff Middle School, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, has been remembering, honoring and teaching its students and taking part in Wreaths Across America for many years now.
Goff teachers spend time in November educating students on the sacrifices that American soldiers have made. Students and teachers help make care packages to be sent overseas. Students also participate in projects highlighting soldiers and our history.
Goff participates in the fundraising efforts every year to get as many wreaths as possible to local soldiers’ graves. They also hold a ceremony open to all active duty military individuals as well as veterans. This year, the keynote speaker is Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield, the first female president of the U.S. Naval College in Newport.
Goff will also be honoring Captain Dee DeQuattro, member of Operation Stand Down RI and founder of RI Boots on the Ground Memorial, and Lt. Allyson Soucy, who is a Pawtucket native and active member of the U.S. Navy. The ceremony always honors gold star families that have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The state ceremony will be held on Dec. 17 at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery. Volunteers are needed to lay the wreaths. Those who are interested in participating can sign up to volunteer here.