When Morrill Worcester was a 12-year-old paperboy for the Bangor Daily News, he won a trip to Washington D.C. where he visited all of the historic venues including Arlington National Cemetery. He was impressed with the solitude and hallowed grounds, and would in his adult life make an impact on not only this cemetery but many others located around America.
He founded Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, and in 1992 - when nearing the end of the holiday season - began to envision how he could best use the remaining wreaths in his inventory. When he remembered his trip to Arlington, Mr. Worcester knew that he had the perfect way to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
As plans progressed, a myriad of businesses and individuals stepped up to help deliver and place the wreaths in a section of Arlington National Cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors each year. Quietly this process took place year after year until a photo showing the stones in Arlington adorned with wreaths and covered in snow began circulating on the Internet. Suddenly thousands of requests began pouring in from businesses and people who wanted to help further this wonderful project.
In 2014, Wal-Mart transported 400 wreaths to its distribution center in Greeneville, Tennessee, and offered them to Donnie Sisk, the Director of the VA National Cemetery at Mountain Home, if he could come and get them in Greeneville. That year, the 400 wreaths were picked up and placed in the Mountain Home National Cemetery.
In 2015, Director Sisk called his friend Bob Rambo to introduce him to this project and share his vision for the future. After his visit with Donnie, Bob who now serves as president of Rolling Thunder TN Chapter 4 knew he had to get involved. Once the paperwork was completed and the contract established between Wreaths Across America and Rolling Thunder TN Chapter 4, a new partnership was formed and the number of wreaths placed began to rise.
“In 2015, we placed 1,000 wreaths,” Bob shared. By 2016, the number grew to almost 5,000 wreaths. “It took a lot of hard, hard work and hours of communications with individuals and groups so that we could place more wreaths on the graves of our fallen heroes. We had a large group of members and other individuals helping us to place them so we felt it was a good success.”
This year, Bob has a goal of 6,000 wreaths.
“Keep in mind that there are 17,000 veterans buried at the Mountain Home National Cemetery and we want to strive to cover as many of them as we can. We know we have a long way to go but with hard work and determination from many of our Rolling Thunder members, we know that it’s an attainable goal,” he said.
This year, Bob Rambo and his Rolling Thunder team hope to reach churches so that they can honor each and every veteran in their congregation by buying a wreath.
“Some churches may have only two veterans and others may have 200 in their congregation but with the purchase of a wreath for only $15 they can provide a beautiful way to honor their members who served our country.”
Rolling Thunder members will be contacting as many civic organizations and groups as possible in the next 45 days so that an increased number of the veterans’ graves can be adorned with the beautiful wreaths this year. Checks for the wreaths should be made payable to Wreaths Across America, a 501(c)(3) organization; this means all donations are tax deductible.
With a deadline of Nov. 25 as the cutoff date for purchasing wreaths, Bob hopes to get the word out as quickly as possible here in the Tri-Cities. The wreaths will be placed on Saturday, Dec. 16. Any civic organizations, groups and individuals interested in helping to place the wreaths are invited to participate.
With the motto of “Remember, Honor, and Teach” Bob says that he feels that “it’s the right thing to do for those who gave so much for our country. We remember our fallen U.S. Veterans, honor those who serve, and teach our children the value of freedom. We invite all civic groups, corporations, churches, and individuals to join us as we pay tribute to our fallen brothers and sisters.”
All checks should be mailed to Wreaths Across America, P.O. Box 220, Mountain Home, TN 37684.