A caravan loaded with Maine-made balsam wreaths made its way to Arlington National Cemetery last weekend, and volunteers gathered in Virginia Saturday to place nearly 260,000 wreaths at the gravesites of fallen service members.
The convoy departed Sunday from Harrington and made several stops across Maine before continuing onward to New Hampshire and Vermont on Monday. The road trip continued through the week.
All told, the nonprofit Wreaths Across America shipped about 2.4 million wreaths to 3,136 locations around the world.
Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, the nonprofit's mission -- to remember our fallen U.S. veterans; to honor those who serve; and to teach your children the value of freedom -- is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at the historic cemetery near Washington, D.C., as well as at more than 2,500 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad.
This year, the annual tradition that started in New England took on an even greater significance; the Senate recently passed a resolution to designate Dec. 18 the official day.
"This is just a wonderful project started by the organization years ago," said Dennis Buden, who is a part of the group's Connecticut chapter.
"I think it's important for our children to be part of such ceremonies to fully understand what families sacrifice for our country," said Ann Shisler, a teacher.
"We do have a level of pride that it originated right here in New England," Buden said. "The wreaths here at Fairview were placed by our volunteers this morning and it’s really just beautiful."
It's a beautiful tribute, Buden says, that shows gratitude to every person who served. When people see these wreaths at gravestones, Buden adds, it should give them pause.
The Associated Press contributed to this report