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Wreaths Across America Receives Warm Welcome At Darien Rest Stop

Karen Worcester of Wreaths Across America presents a wreath to Paul Landino of Project Service at the service plaza on I-95 Southbound in Darien. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Supporters of Wreaths Across America wave American flags in greeting to the caravan of trucks as it pulls into the service plaza. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Supporters greet the truck drivers, state troopers and volunteers as they come in to the service plaza in Darien. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Representatives from Wreaths Across America, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Monuments and Ceremonies Commission, Project Service, as well as volunteers and elected officials, celebrate Wreaths Across America. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson and Sen. Bob Duff thank the volunteers of Wreaths Across America. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

DARIEN, Conn. -- A caravan of trucks from Wreaths Across America received an enthusiasm welcome as they pulled into the rest-stop on I-95 in Darien on a rain-swept Tuesday night on its way to Arlington National Cemetery.

Wreaths Across America began in 1992 when Karen and Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath Co. in Maine donated 5,000 wreaths to adorne the graves of veterans in Arlington.

In 2007, the Worcesters formed a national nonprofit to lay wreaths in Arlington and in veterans cemeteries across the country.

This year, they will be placing 700,000 wreaths in 410 state, national and local cemeteries, as well as 24 offshore cemeteries to honor those who have served our nation.

"Everybody knows somebody who has served in the military," said Karen Worcester as nine trucks carrying more than 5,000 wreaths from Maine pulled into the rest stop on I-95 southbound. The trucks were accompanied by state police, and greeted by a crowd of enthusiastic supporters waving flags and cheering them on.

"People need something to pull together around and remind them of what's good about this country. It's a very tangible thing, the entire community coming together to lay a wreath in a ceremony. It shows that the spirit of patriotism is alive and well in this country."

Paul Landino, president of Project Service, the company that operates 17 service plazas along highways in Connecticut, said he was honored for the service plaza to be part of the ceremony.

"It's natural that we should provide the break for the drivers on their long-distance run," Landino said. "We're absolutely grateful to the veterans. Those who have made the ultimate sacrifice should not be forgotten, and we'll continue to do anything we can to recognize them."

The wreaths will be placed on the graves of veterans at noon this Saturday in simultaneous ceremonies at Arlington and at cemeteries across the country. The Darien community will mark the occasion with a ceremony at Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery, the first veterans cemetery in Connecticut.

About 1,000 wreaths have been donated by the community for the Darien ceremony. Organization efforts were led by the Darien VFW, the Good Wife's River Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Monuments and Ceremonies Commission, with support from youth organizations such as the Darien High School group Support Our Soldiers, the Boy Scouts and Darien Youth Hockey.

Terry Gaffney, treasurer of the Monuments and Ceremonies Commission and one of the coordinators of the wreath donations, said the event helps to plant the seeds in young people's minds about the sacrifices of veterans.

"Hopefully those passing by the cemetery on a nice day will see the wreaths and it will make them pause and think that somebody did this for them. That's what this is all about."

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