In 1992, a wreath-making company in Maine found itself with a surplus at the end of the holiday season. Owner Morrill Worcester fondly remembered a boyhood trip to Arlington National Cemetery, and wanted to send the extra 5,000 wreaths to honor and remember the fallen who protected the country. The owner of a local trucking company, James Prout, liked the idea, so he provided transportation from Maine to Virginia. Volunteers decorated them with red bows and coordinated a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
For years after, this continued as a little tradition donated by Worcester, Prout, and residents of Harrington, Maine. Then a photo of snowy gravestones covered with their tribute wreaths went viral on the Internet. Thousands of people called Worcester, wanting to replicate the service at their own veteran cemeteries. The next year, wreaths went up in 150 locations. Soon a nonprofit called Wreaths Across America was combining volunteers, companies, veterans, and truckers. Last year, WAA volunteers laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 locations in the U.S. and overseas, including Pearl Harbor Memorial, Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, and the World Trade Center Memorial. With crucial help from trucking companies that provide equipment and fuel, while drivers donate their time, WAA hopes to lay over a million wreaths this year.