World's Longest Veterans Parade
The world's longest veterans parade, the escort of Christmas wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery, will begin on Sunday, December 6, 2009. More than 150,000 donated Christmas wreaths will begin their journey from Harrington, Maine, to Arlington and more than 400 other state and national veterans cemeteries across the country, thanks to the annual Wreaths Across America project.
This will be the 18th annual journey of donated wreaths from Maine to Virginia, where they will be placed on the graves of our nations veterans - a beautiful and solemn tribute to those who serve and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.
The story began in 1992 when Morrill Worcester, president of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, had excess wreaths for the Christmas season. He remembered a boyhood visit to Arlington National Cemetery, and the impression it had made on him, and decided to deliver 5,000 wreaths to adorn the graves at Christmas in tribute to our nation's men and women in uniform.
This year, 2009, will be the fourth annual wreath escort, which must certainly be the world's longest veterans parade. The convoy of tractor-trailer rigs bearing the wreaths will be escorted along its route of more than 750 miles by dozens of vehicles from the Patriot Guard Riders (with motorcycles and flagged vehicles) and other veterans groups and supporters. The escort will include stops along the route for rallies and programs at schools, veterans hospitals and centers, and town squares, for tributes to our veterans and their families.
During its seven-day journey, the caravan will pass through 196 communities en route to Arlington, and a number of those communities are planning rallies and other events in celebration.
In addition to 15,000 Christmas wreaths headed to Arlington, the Wreaths Across AmericaTM project will deliver more than 100,000 wreaths to more than 400 participating state and national veterans cemeteries and monuments around the country.
The celebration actually begins on Saturday, December 5, with a wreath-laying ceremony at the U.S./Canadian border in Calais, Maine. On Sunday, volunteers will begin decorating the wreaths in Harrington at 7:30 a.m. At 9:15, there will be a send-off ceremony, and the first stop will be at Bangor Auditorium at 11:30 a.m.
The escort schedule for the week includes the following stops:
This information was provided by Wreaths Across America. You can get more information, including times for each stop, by clicking on the link.
- Sunday, December 6
- Bangor Auditorium
- Hermon Elementary School
- Edward Little High School, Auburn, ME
- AMVETS Post dinner, Portland, ME
- Monday, December 7 (Pearl Harbor Day)
- Wells Middle School, Saco, ME
- Kittery Trading Post, Kittery, ME
- Patton Park, Hamilton, MA
- Bedford VA Hospital, Bedford, MA
- Gillete Stadium
- Tuesday, December 8
- Ponagansett School, North Scituate, RI
- 612 Memorial, Coventry, CT
- Hartford, CT State Armory
- Wednesday, December 9
- Southington High School
- Home of the Brave, Bridgeport, CT
- Darien, CT VFW, ceremony at Darien Town Hall
- Thursday, December 10
- Darien High School, CT
- George Washington Bridge
- Edgewood Elementary School, Yardley, PA
- Friday, December 11
- St. Matthew's Elementary School, Philadelphia, PA
- Pentagon, Washington, DC, ceremony honoring victims of 9/11
- Saturday, December 12
- Escort arrives at Arlington National Cemetery, 7:15 a.m.
- Volunteers should arrive NLT 8:00 a.m.
- Ceremony at Tomb of the Unknowns at Noon
If you live anywhere along the 750-mile route of the world's longest veterans parade, please turn out to show your support for this stirring tribute to our men and women in uniform.
Wreath-Laying Ceremony at Arlington
If you would like to participate in laying the wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, you should be there Saturday morning not later than 8:00 a.m. Directions and more information, including information about parking, are available at the Arlington National Cemetery web site.
Each year, the Superintendent at Arlington selects the sections that will be decorated, choosing older areas of the cemetery that receive fewer visitors. This year, the sections to be decorated are Sections 2, 9, 31, 32, and 37.