2017-12-12 / Front Page / JT Beacon

Wreaths Across America makes stop in Kennebunk

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By LIZ GOTTHELF
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — The Wreaths Across America convoy was scheduled to make many stops on its way from Maine to Washington, D.C., but the stop it made Monday morning at Kennebunk High School had special meaning. 

Wreaths Across America was formed in 1992 as an extension of the Arlington Wreaths Project. The organization lays wreaths on graves of fallen soldiers every December, and this year will lay wreaths at more than 1,200 cemeteries across the country and 24 cemeteries abroad, according to the Wreaths Across America website. 

A convoy of tractor trailer trucks, buses and support vehicles left Harrington around 10 a.m. on Sunday and, after making stops along the way, is scheduled to arrive at Arlington Cemetery on Dec. 16, where volunteers will lay wreaths. 

On Monday, like it did last year, the convoy made a stop at Kennebunk High School to spread its mission of remember, honor and teach. There were wreath presentations to local veterans, patriotic songs and words of recognition.

Sea Road School fourth-grader Jackson Lucier recalled the ceremony last year, when school was closed because of a snowstorm on the morning the convoy was to arrive.

“We didn’t know what to do,” he said. 

He said 32 wreaths had been made and a ceremony had been planned. “One by one, one car at a time, through the snow, parents started showing up with kids, until we had a full house, and we were ready when the convoy arrived,” said Jackson.

Local students were all very excited when they heard that Wreaths Across America had announced that its theme this year was “I’m an American,” inspired by the Rick Cherette song sung by the Regional School Unit 21 Singers at last year’s ceremony in Kennebunk, Jackson said.

Kennebunk Elementary School Principal Ryan Quinn said students in October from every elementary school in the district had the chance to sing the song again at the Maine School Board Association’s Annual conference.

Quinn said they were the first group of children to perform at that event, and they received a standing ovation. 

The Regional School Unit 21 Singers performed the song again on Monday, to a very enthusiastic audience. 

“I'm an American. Yes I am. I love my country. I love my land,” they sang. 

About 1.6 million wreaths will be distributed this year, said founder Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company. 

“In the beginning, in 1992, we had 12 volunteers. "Today we have over a million and a half in all 50 states and oversees,” he said.

Locally, a wreath laying ceremony will be held at Southern Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery Association from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the cemetery, 83 Stanley Road, Springvale. 

For more information on Wreaths Across America, go to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com. 

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