Wreaths Across Westfield tomorrow

Hundreds of volunteers will gather at Arlington National Cemetery to place thousands of donated Christmas wreaths on headstones on Dec. 15. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi)

WESTFIELD – The city of Westfield and Stanley Park have been selected as a stop in the Wreaths Across America – Escort to Arlington 2012. The truck and its escorts are expected to arrive in Westfield at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow and proceed to Stanley Park, where seven wreaths will be laid at the Veterans’ Memorial.
Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, started Wreaths Across America in 1992 when he found himself with extra wreaths at the end of the holiday season. Worcester then donated those 5,000 wreaths to be placed at the headstones of an older section that was seen by a decreasing number of visitors each year at Arlington National Cemetery.
This tradition carried on quietly for a few years, until 2005 when the project was recognized nationally following a photo of headstones adorned with the wreaths that were taken at Arlington National Cemetery. In 2007, the Worcester family, with the help of veterans and other volunteers who contributed to their annual wreath ceremony in Arlington, created Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit organization. Their mission includes continuing and expanding their organization, as well as promoting other organizations that also recognize veterans.
The Escort to Arlington, known as the “Veterans Honor Parade”, has become known as the world’s largest Veteran’s Parade, beginning in Harrington Maine, and ending at Arlington National Cemetery, where the wreath laying ceremony is still held annually on the second or third Saturday of December. The parade visits various towns and cities along the way, making stops at schools, monuments, and veteran’s homes.
The seven wreaths set to be laid at Stanley Park represent the 5 branches of service and Merchant Marines, and POW/MIAs.
“We are honored and privileged to have been chosen to be one of the visits along this special convoy to Arlington National Cemetery,” said Stanley Park Managing Director, Bob McKean. “It gives us time to pause, reflect, and appreciate what our military, past and present have done for us at this very special time of the year.”
The city of Westfield encourages people to roll out the “welcome mat” tomorrow, lining the streets and bridges, as well as gathering on the green, as the convoy makes it’s way down North Elm Street, Elm Street onto Court Street, continuing onto Western Avenue where it will arrive at Stanley Park.
Students from Highland School, South Middle School, North Middle School, and Abner Gibbs are planning on greeting the convoy as it makes it way through Westfield.
Westfield Fire Chief Mary Regan said that the “city’s platform truck will be out at City Hall, with the flag out”.
Residents are also encouraged to attend the wreath ceremony at the park, at the Veteran’s Memorial, where the convoy is set to arrive shortly after 9:00 a.m.

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