Members of the Pine Bush High School Youth in Government organization were chosen to participate in the Wreaths Across America ceremony in Goshen, at the Orange County Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Students Kyle O’Brien and Riley Kool, along with their Youth in Government adviser Charlene Webster, participated in the wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17.
“It was such an honor to be part of this wonderful event,” said Mrs. Webster.
Wreaths Across America is an organization that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 3,700 locations across the United States, at sea and abroad in December of each year.
Started by Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, he was a 12-year-old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to Washington D.C. This trip would be one he never forgot, and Arlington National Cemetery made an indelible impression on him. This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
In 1992, Worcester Wreath had a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our veterans. With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.
It grew into a great symbol of respect for those who sacrificed themselves for the freedoms we have today. He chose December to do the honors due to the fact there would be vacant seats at family tables for the holiday season and he believed it was the perfect time to honor those heroes.
In 2008, more than 300 locations held wreath-laying ceremonies in every state, Puerto Rico and 24 overseas cemeteries. More than 100,000 wreaths were placed on veterans’ graves by more than 60,000 volunteers. The United States Congress voted unanimously to acknowledge Dec. 13, 2008 as “Wreaths Across America Day.”
In 2014, Wreaths Across America and its national network of volunteers laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 locations in the United States and beyond, including ceremonies at the Pearl Harbor Memorial, Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and the sites of the September 11 tragedies. This was accomplished with help from 2,047 sponsorship groups, corporate contributions, and donations of trucking, shipping, and thousands of helping hands. The organization’s goal of covering Arlington National Cemetery was met in 2014 with the placement of 226,525 wreaths.