Governor and First Lady Lay Wreaths to Remember, Honor and Teach
December 13, 2014
For Immediate Release: Saturday, December 13, 2014
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-592-3718
Across America tribute draws thousands of volunteers to Arlington National Cemetery
ARLINGTON, VA – Today, joining nearly 30,000 volunteers, Governor Paul R. LePage and First Lady Ann M. LePage participated in the annual Wreaths Across America remembrance ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Paying tribute to the men and women who served our nation with dignity and honor, more than 230,000 remembrance wreaths were placed on their graves.
Since 1992, Morrill and Karen Worcester, founders of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine have organized a group of volunteers to place wreaths in Arlington, Virginia. This is the project's 23rd year laying wreaths at our Nation's cemetery and signifies the largest amount of wreaths ever delivered. Across the country, 540,000 remembrance wreaths were placed in honor of our veterans at more than 900 locations.
The laying of the wreaths has become an annual tradition for the Governor and First Lady. For the past four years, First Lady LePage has traveled with the Wreaths Across America convoy – referred to as “The Arlington Project” – from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery, which began on Sunday, December 7.
“The support this project has received is overwhelming. This is the first year we have been able to ensure a wreath is placed on every single grave – all 400,000 men and women have a wreath,” said Mrs. LePage. “The effort of these volunteers and everybody who has donated to make this happen is amazing. The men and women we pay tribute to deserve this recognition for their service and they make me proud to be an American.”
Governor LePage and Mrs. LePage also placed a wreath at the mast of the U.S.S. Maine with various members of Maine law enforcement, including officers from the Portland Police Department. The mast was removed from the ship in 1905 shortly before the ship was taken out to sea and sunk with military honors. The mast was then installed above a memorial in Arlington National Cemetery in honor of those who lost their lives when the ship sank in Havana, Cuba, Harbor in 1898. This sinking was the event that started the Spanish-American War.
On Friday evening, the Governor and First Lady attended a rally in College Park Maryland for Wreaths Across America volunteers. The rally was held at Moose Lodge to welcome everyone and thank them for their time. “Mainers are generous and humble people who understand that freedom is not free,” Governor LePage said. “It is a true honor to stand beside my lovely wife and be a part of this tribute to honor and remember America’s heroes. I’m so very proud that this tradition began in Maine. Ann and I have had the privilege over the years to get to know Karen and Morrill who selflessly have dedicated themselves to their project’s mission: to remember the fallen, honor those who serve and their families and teach our children the value of freedom.”
For many years The Arlington Project had been the quiet mission of Morrill Worcester and his family. In 2006, internet stories fueled attention for his annual quest, and Worcester was contacted by the Patriot Guard Riders who generously offered their help with the project. Since then the Patriot Guard Riders have escorted the wreath trucks down the East Coast and taking several days to make the trip.
This allows stops at schools, monuments, veterans’ homes and communities and gives the group an opportunity to promote their mission: Remember, Honor and Teach. This “parade” of truckers, supporters and well-wishers has become an annual event and teaching opportunity for Wreaths Across America and a valued part of the Arlington Project.