I recently had the privilege of interviewing Karen Worcester, the Executive Director of Wreaths Across America. This organization has a profound mission: to honor and remember our fallen veterans by placing wreaths on their graves.
The story of Wreaths Across America began in 1992 when Karen’s family, who were in the balsam business, found themselves with a surplus of wreaths. They wanted to do something meaningful with them, and Karen’s husband suggested placing the wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery to thank and honor the fallen. This simple act of gratitude had a profound impact on them, and it became a family tradition.
In 2005, a photo of the snow-covered wreaths at Arlington went viral, leading to an overwhelming response from people wanting to participate. This led to the formation of a 501(c)(3) organization and the mission expanded to include teaching kids about the value of service and sacrifice. Karen is particularly proud of the Teach Peace curriculum, which she developed with the help of a Gold-Star mom, Cindy Tatum. The curriculum focuses on teaching children about the characteristics of military men and women, such as courage, character, responsibility, and sacrifice.
Despite the occasional challenges, such as storms that can affect delivery, Wreaths Across America has a non-delivery rate of less than 1%. They have a dedicated team and a group of liaisons across the country who are trained year-round and help with various programs, including teaching flag etiquette.
When asked about what’s next for Wreaths Across America, Karen emphasized the importance of teaching and expanding their mission. They aim to change the narrative around veterans and show that they can succeed and give back to the country. This year, their theme is “serve and succeed.”
Karen explained how people can get involved and support the mission of Wreaths Across America. Individuals can volunteer at one of the 4,100 locations or sponsor a wreath through their website. The $17 sponsorship not only places a wreath but also supports other important aspects of their mission.
I want to express my gratitude to Karen for sharing this information and for her service. I also want to acknowledge Jeff Pierce for facilitating the interview and wish him a Merry Christmas.
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Photo: Courtesy of DHouse Photography
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Military Broadcast Radio
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