Every December since 1992, Morrill Worcester, owner of one of the world’s largest holiday wreath companies, has taken time in the midst of his busiest season to haul a truckload of wreaths to the Arlington National Cemetery. Morrill and his band of volunteers spend a day laying wreaths on the graves of over 5,000 soldiers as part of the Wreaths Across America program.

Worcester, 56, started the program when one of his warehouses called to report an overproduction of several thousand wreaths. He said: “Well, I’m not just gonna throw them away. That’s when I thought of Arlington.” He called Washington and asked for permission to lay his wreaths. To his surprise, he got it.

“When people hear about what we’re doing, they want to know if I’m a veteran,” Morrill said on the Wreaths Across America website. “I’m not. But I make it my business never to forget.” His wife, Karen, agrees: “We want to honor the veterans, and we do it with the products we make ourselves. We’re like the Little Drummer Boy. He had his drum; we have our wreaths.”

For Morrill and Karen, the program is a way to give back. Christmas wreaths had made them rich. Through Wreaths Across America, they feel they are reclaiming the true meaning of a wreath, showing it as something more than a glitzy holiday ornament: “We wanted to get back to the simple idea of what a wreath represents—respect, honor, and victory.”

Rick Hampson, “Gift of Wreaths Touches Nation,” USA Today(12-15-07), 1A