inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

Wreaths Across America comes to the Delaware Valley

This year’s Wreaths Across America’s annual ‘Escort to Arlington’ parade made its only Pennsylvania stop at the Delaware County Veterans Memorial in Newtown Square on a rainy Thursday morning.

WAA’s annual pilgrimage from Harrington, Maine, to Arlington National Cemetery has become known as the world’s largest veterans’ parade. This ceremony, which was open to the public, included moving remarks from local veterans, musical performances, and the laying of wreaths.

“We are truly honored to welcome Wreaths Across America to the Delaware County Veterans Memorial and eternally grateful for all who served our great nation,” Ralph Galati, Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association Board Member, said.

Wreaths Across America also had their Mobile Education Exhibit on-site to educate local youth.

Participants for this year’s escort to Arlington included Gold Star families – including Sarah Whitehouse Taylor, the national president of American Gold Star Mothers Inc.

“It’s such a blessing to speak here today. We are surrounded by so many heroes who have displayed such great courage for our country,” Taylor said.

Blue Star Families, veterans, and volunteers represented many eras and local veteran service organizations such as the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, Disabled American Veterans, the VFW, and the VFW Auxiliary.

Members of the Patriots Riders, Patriot Guard Riders, and law enforcement from departments across many states along the route provided escorts to ensure safe transport for all participants throughout the week amidst the inclement weather.

The wreaths’ journey to Arlington has become a tradition, allowing locals to share their emotional and educational experiences as the WAA convoy passes through their hometowns. Last year marked the 30th anniversary that veterans’ wreaths were placed at Arlington National Cemetery, a tradition started by Maine wreath maker Morrill Worcester as a gift of thanks.

“For me, the Escort to Arlington is the culmination of another year of sharing the mission to remember, honor, and teach across this country. I say it every year, but it is truly an experience of a lifetime,” Karen Worcester, Executive Director of WAA, told The Patch. “The way the mission and these families and veterans are welcomed into communities, with flags waving and streets lined with children and grateful Americans, is something we always wished every person could witness.”

Not only were local veterans and other Delaware County residents in attendance for today’s event, but also local high schools. Sam Breckenridge, a U.S. History teacher at Ridley High School, brought his students to the event to give them appreciation for local veterans in Delaware County.

“It’s reflective of the contributions of a lot of people in our county have made towards independence and freedom,” Breckenridge said. “I wanted our students to recognize that there is a strong connection here in Delaware County, and this was a ceremony that we have never taken students here before. Despite the weather, I think they got a lot out of it.”

The Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association was first proposed in 2013 to recognize and pay tribute to fallen armed forces from Delaware County. This proposal came into reality on May 11, 2013, when the monument was dedicated to a solemn ceremony.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Wreaths Across America Honors Fallen Soldiers and Keeps Their Sacrifice Alive

This December marks the 30th year that Wreaths Across American has placed wreaths on the graves of veterans in cemeteries around the country, including Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It honors those who have served our country.

Joe Regan, director of military and veteran outreach for Wreaths Across America and an army veteran, said the international organization’s mission is to remember fallen veterans,  honor the sacrifices of military members, living veterans, and their families, and teach the next generation of Americans the value of freedom and about the sacrifices that are made on their behalf every day.

On Sunday, December 12, a convoy will go from the group’s Columbia Falls, Maine headquarters to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, arriving on the 18th. That is national Wreaths Across America Day. Nearly 3,000 cemeteries will participate in wreath events. Thirty years ago the organization began with 5,000 wreaths. Now it’s up to 2 million, with an army of volunteers all over the country. Sponsorship is $15 a wreath.

The organization began as a tradition for the Worcester family. In 1992, Morrill Worcester and his wife, Karen,  found themselves with about 5,000 extra wreaths that they didn’t sell during the holiday season. Morrill thought back to when he was about 12 and had won a competition to get a trip to Washington, D.C. One thing that always stuck with him about that trip was his visit to Arlington National Cemetery and he had the idea of laying those wreaths there as a thank you to veterans.

Now with over 3,000 cemeteries in every state of the country, it has also expanded into Guam and Puerto Rico. Before COVID, it was also in Europe, honoring veterans who are buried overseas.

“And so that opportunity to lay that wreath on the headstone of that veteran, to say the name of that person, it sounds so simple,” said Regan. “But at that moment, when you say that name, and you’re standing there, it creates that connection and that bond with that veteran, and that’s tremendously powerful.”

For Regan, who has several friends who were killed overseas, it is maintaining that connection with fallen brothers. For others, it could be a complete stranger. Many veterans had no living relatives to recognize them.

“One thing I’ve heard from a couple of different places: They say that everyone dies twice. First, when your heart stops, and then there’s the last time that someone says your name,” said Regan. “Through this program, regular citizens can keep that individual’s memory alive. The visible part of what we do is the wreath-laying. But it really is a powerful expression of our commitment to living up to the legacy of those men and women who have served our country and are the ones responsible for all the amazing things that we have.”

With about 500 partnerships with individual American Legion and VFW posts across the country, volunteers and donors come together to make this event possible every year. For every two wreaths sponsored, the third wreath will help support living veterans in communities.

“And if you look at Hollywood, there are several very notable folks there who served in the United States military. And one, in particular, my great-grandfather who served in World War I was the iconic Walter Brennan, one of only a few actors who won three Academy Awards. One thing that made him distinctive was his unique voice. And I learned from my great-grandfather that he had been in several gas attacks,” said Regan.

“That was why Walter Brennan’s voice was higher pitched, a result of damage to his vocal cords because of a gas attack. A guy like Walter Brennan, who, despite being wounded, used that and it helped define his career. And he found tremendous success. So I go back to the last portion of our mission, the teaching component. We share those stories of how our veterans who are living in communities across the country continue to give back and use the skills and the experiences they had in the military, to bring back to their civilian lives and create a tremendous amount of value,” he said.

Regan encourages everyone to find a cemetery and witness the wreaths for themselves on December 18.

You can also hear the stories of our veterans on the iHeart Radio platform, where they have a Wreaths Across America radio station, not only to highlight patriotic music but information about activities, interviews with location coordinators but also issues impacting veterans.  One of the programs, “Mission Matters,” is one that Regan hosts along with co-founder and executive director Karen Worcester explains why its mission is important.

Prior to joining Wreaths Across America, Regan ran a nonprofit that focused on supporting homeless veterans and veterans with chronic mental health issues, giving them hand-ups, not handouts.

Follow us on social media: Twitter: @DV_Journal or