PITTSBURG — As part of the nationally observed Wreaths Across America Day each December, a brief ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Pittsburg State University Veterans Memorial. The public is invited.
The mission of the annual day, to “Remember, Honor and Teach” is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 1,400 additional locations in all 50 states, at sea, and abroad.
At PSU, the ceremony will be under the direction of PSU ROTC and will last approximately 15 minutes. Cadet Jonathan Gonzalez will serve as the emcee, and Lt. Col. Charles Costello, professor of military science, will offer remarks.
To conclude the ceremony, former service members will place wreaths on stands by memorial seals that represent each branch of service.
The annual observance has an interesting origin. Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, was a 12-year-old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to Washington, D.C.
Arlington National Cemetery made an impression on him. In 1992, his company had a surplus of wreaths at the end of the holiday season, and recalling that boyhood experience, he arranged to place them at Arlington in an older section of the cemetery.
Volunteers, organizations — even a trucking company — got involved, and the quiet tribute became an annual event. In 2005, a photo of the stones adorned with wreaths circulated online and drew national attention.
Worcester began sending seven wreaths to every state in honor of each military branch and for POW/MIAs, and ceremonies were held at more than 150 locations. In 2007, the family, along with veterans and other groups, formed Wreaths Across America, a non-profit 501-(c)(3).
By 2014, it had grown to include 700,000 wreaths at 1,000 locations, including ceremonies at Pearl Harbor Memorial, Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, and the sites of the September 11 tragedies.
The wreath-laying is still held annually, on the second or third Saturday of December. Wreaths Across America’s annual pilgrimage from Harrington, Maine, to Arlington National Cemetery has become known as the world’s largest veterans’ parade, stopping at schools, monuments, veterans’ homes and communities all along the way.