A dedicated audience welcomed Wreaths Across America to the Wiscasset Speedway, despite chilly temperatures and an hour-long delay.
The parade of 12 tractor trailers carrying wreaths to Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C. started on Dec. 11 with a 7:07 a.m. sunrise service at West Quoddy Headlight in Lubec. On day two the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office led the convoy into the Wiscasset Speedway at approximately 4 p.m. through a welcome bridge of crossed ladders set up by fire departments from Wiscasset, Alna and Dresden.
Slowdowns along the way and downed power lines across the route into Wiscasset caused the hour long delay. But people stayed, some bundled in blankets against the cold wind.
Reggie Bechard waited just past the welcome bridge with a large American flag. Bechard, who served in Vietnam with the 11th armored cavalry, joined the convoy to Arlington two years ago. He recalled hitting the road at 4:30 a.m. and going until after 10 p.m. This year, he came down to Wiscasset to attend the ceremony at the Speedway.
Kat Pinkham, 2021 Mrs. New England USA Ambassador for the Success, through Leadership, Integrity, Character and Confidence Foundation was on hand to “bring awareness to the stigma of suicide among veterans.”
Navy veteran Greg Lozier of the Patriot Riders of America, Maine Chapter 2, said it was his honor to attend the ceremony. Patriot Riders are among the volunteers who support the annual parade from Maine to Arlington.
Town Manager Dennis Simmons spoke of how Maine wreath maker Morrill Worcester “planted the seed that would grow into the forest of Wreaths Across America.” In 1992, Worcester made the first trek to Arlington to lay 5,000 wreaths on veterans’ graves there.
Wreaths Across America continues that tradition with a goal of laying approximately 257,000 wreaths at Arlington, one for every veteran’s marker at the 639-acre cemetery.
The convoy will continue along the east coast with stops in Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington D.C. before arriving at Arlington on Dec. 18, National Wreaths Across America Day. On that day more than 2,900 locations across the country will place wreaths on veterans’ graves to honor and remember those who served their country.
For more information, visit wreathsacrossamerica.org.