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Wreaths Across America travels through Midcoast Sunday, plans stops in Lincolnville, Thomaston

Posted:  Sunday, December 11, 2016 - 8:15am

On Sunday, Dec. 11, in the afternoon, an estimated 35 trucks will travel through the Midcoast, along Route 1, toward their Wreaths Across America destination of Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. The annual event begins in Columbia Falls, and stops for a noon luncheon in Belfast before continuing to head south. On Dec. 10, there was a memorial event in Calais, with a trucker's dinner that evening.

On Sunday, at approximately 1:30 p.m., the Wreaths Across America convoy will arrive at Lincolnville Beach, where a ceremony will be held and four wreaths presented. One will be laid at the cannon, while the other three will be taken to Frohock Bridge to honor members of the Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and Navy lost at sea. There will be a ceremony at the bridge for laying of the wreaths in the Frohock.

All are welcome at the beach to greet the convoy, and encouraged to arrive early as traffic will be congested, especially coming from the north. Last year approximately 20 tractor trailer trucks with another 20 escort vehicles (law enforcement from all over the state) comprised the convoy.

The American Legion color guard will be participating in the wreath laying in Lincolnville, as well as veterans from each of the representative branches of the military. Participants are encouraged to bring flags and banners, with the cemetery committee providing some flags for those who don't have their own. Local fire and police will also be participating.

As a last minute itinerary addition, the convoy will also stop at the Knox Museum in Thomaston, to lay a wreath on the tomb of Gen. Henry Knox, according to Wreath's participant Carmine A. Pecorelli of Belfast. The convoy is expected in Thomaston between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m., at the corner of Dwight and Main streets (Route 1), according to Knox Museum Executive Director Tobin Malone.

Citizens are asked to gather in front of Thomaston Public Library at that time today for the receiving of the wreath. People are again encouraged to bring American flags. The procession will march the two blocks to the cemetery, where they will lay the wreath on Knox's grave.

According to Pecorelli, Wreath's Across America founders, Morrill and Karen Worcester, started the annual tradition decades after Morrill visited Arlington National Cemetery for the first time as a young man. Read Pecorelli's summary of the Worcesters' start and of Pecorelli's personal account of the laying of the wreaths:

"When Worcester was about 13 years old, he was a delivery boy for the Bangor Daily News. The publishers decided to bring these young boys and girls to Arlington Cemetery. You know the story.You've had experiences. Someone has influenced your life when you were very young, 12, 13, and you still think of them. Something will come up, you are gonna think of them, or you are gonna accomplish something. When you think of them you are gonna say 'thank you,' or you are gonna have this feeling of appreciation or gratitude.

Morrill, as he got older, got involved in balsam pine trees at Columbia Falls.

The beautiful thing is, he made wreaths. They don't cut the trees, you see. They snip them. Well, 25 years ago, he said to his wife, 'Karen, I have some wreaths left over that I haven't sold. So we're going to take a trip to Arlington.'

Ok. To Arlington they went. They drove from Columbia Falls to Arlington. It's a couple of days' trip. They got into Arlington. Didn't ask permission. They just went in. He found an area that had a number of headstones equal to the number of wreaths he had, and so, he placed wreaths. He and his wife placed wreaths on every headstone.

There was an air force sergeant there on leave, and he took a picture of it. All you saw were the tombstones. And it went viral. Last year, when we left Maine, there were 35 trucks carrying wreaths from the floor to the ceiling. There's 7,000 people waiting at the entrance of Arlington Cemetery with their children. And they stand in line. There are 35 trucks. Walmart sends two trucks. The truck owners pay for the salaries of the drivers.

The trucks are placed strategically throughout Arlington. And they open the doors, and the people are standing in line, very orderly. The presidential helicopter flies around the cemetery twice. On the second time around, they start distributing. You'll see children in baby carriages holding wreaths. You'll see mothers and fathers. You'll see children who can walk carrying anywhere from one wreath to maybe two on each arm.

And it's started by one man."

Related link:

• Wreaths Across America