By MIKE MCCOY
Statesman Staff Writer
BLOOMFIELD, Mo. - Wreaths Across America will be held Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, at the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery beginning at 11 a.m. Through the support of community sponsorship, every grave in the cemetery will have a wreath place on it. This marks the fifth year the program has been held and each year every grave site in the Bloomfield cemetery has had a wreath.
The ceremony will open with a moment of silence followed by a presentation by the Stoddard County Veterans Honor Guard. Seven ceremonial wreaths representing each branch of service will be placed at the main pavilion to in observance of the contribution veterans have made to their country. The Patriot Guard Riders of Southeast Missouri will again host the event. Randy Dunn will serve as master of ceremonies. Teresa Wright again spearheaded the effort to gain enough sponsorship to lay a wreath on every grave at the State Veterans Cemetery in Bloomfield.
The wreaths are provided by Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine. Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, started the event in 1992.
The Worcester Wreath Company began donating holiday wreaths in tribute to Veterans laid to rest at VA's 131 national cemeteries and 79 state Veterans cemeteries in 2006. For the past 19 years, they have donated wreaths for grave sites at Arlington National Cemetery. In addition to wreaths placed at Arlington, Worcester Wreath will donate seven ceremonial wreaths to each of over 350 state and national Veterans cemeteries across the country.
This year, the organization has more than 800 participating locations in all 50 states and nearly 30 locations overseas. They are currently on pace to lay between 355,000 and 401,000 wreaths across the country. In 2011, 90,000 wreaths were handed out and placed at Arlington by over 15,000 volunteers in little over an hour's time. The total number of volunteers is expected to be even greater this year.
"We are overwhelmed with the support and patriotic gesture by people from all over the country," said Karen Worcester, executive director of WAA.
"WAA is committed to teaching younger generations about the value of their freedoms, and the importance of honoring those who sacrificed so much to protect those freedoms. We offer learning tools, interactive media projects, and opportunities for youth groups to participate in our events. We also work to create opportunities to connect "the Greatest Generation" with the 'Generation of Hope.' The inspirational stories of our World War II Veterans must be passed on to the leaders of the future," says the WWA website.