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December 15 is Wreaths Across America Day. This annual day devoted to wreath-laying is designed to honor veterans, and it offers a tangible and moving way for people to show their respect and appreciation. More than 1400 locations across the US, at sea, and abroad participate in this effort, but it began as a quiet and simple act.

As a boy, Morrill Worcester won a trip to Washington, D.C., and was deeply affected by Arlington National Cemetery. Seeing the graves of those who had lost their lives in support of our country sparked in him a lifelong respect for veterans. When he grew to adulthood, he became the owner of the Worcester Wreath Company, but he never lost the conviction that his good fortune in life was largely due to the values of our great nation and the veterans who had offered the ultimate sacrifice in support of those values.

In 1992, his company had a surplus of wreaths towards the end of the holiday s, and Morrill Worcester had a brilliant idea. He made arrangements for them to go to Arlington National Cemetery, to adorn the graves of fallen veterans in one of the older sections of the cemetery. Soon, his effort was joined by other businesses, and the wreath-laying tradition quietly grew until 2005.

In 2005, a photo of the stones at Arlington, covered in snow and adorned with wreaths, circulated on the internet. When that happened, the project drew national attention, and thousands of requests poured in from people across the country. Some people wanted to help with Arlington, while others wanted to emulate what was being done at Arlington, bringing wreaths to their National and State cemeteries. Others simply wanted to share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for his service in honoring our nation’s heroes.

After a time, this venture became bigger than one company could manage, and Wreaths Across America was born. This non-profit organization was formed by the Worcester family, along with veterans and other groups and individuals. The mission of the group is simple: Remember, Honor, and Teach. Wreaths Across America strives to remember our veterans, honor their service, and teach younger generations to appreciate our freedoms and the veterans who fought so we might keep those freedoms.

The wreath-laying tradition continues, occurring annually on the second or third Saturday of December. Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of San Jose is proud to participate in Wreaths Across America Day. Join us on Saturday, December 15, from 10 am – 12 pm at Gate of Heaven Catholic Cemetery, as we honor our nation’s veterans in a meaningful way.

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