Don’t Say I Should Have. Say I Did.

Washington, D.C. is a great place to visit, especially at Christmas time. In addition to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) board meeting and the Resolutions Committee meeting, Julie and I volunteered to help place fresh wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery to honor those who gave our country the ultimate sacrifice.

Wreaths Across America
Have you heard about Wreaths Across America? It started when Morrill Worcester, Washington County Farm Bureau member in Maine and owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, was a 12 year old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News, and he won a trip to Washington D.C. His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career in business, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their Country.

In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s Veterans. With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery, a section which had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.

A number of other individuals and organizations stepped up to help. An owner of a local trucking company generously provided transportation to Virginia, and volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW Posts gathered with members of the community to decorate each wreath with traditional red, hand-tied bows.

The annual tribute went on quietly for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet. Suddenly, the project received national attention. Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help at Arlington, and to emulate the Arlington project at their National and State cemeteries, or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for honoring our nation’s heroes.

Every year the week-long Wreaths Across America annual pilgrimage travels from Harrington, Maine to Arlington National Cemetery and has become known as the world’s largest veteran’s parade stopping at schools, monuments, veteran’s homes and communities all along the way to spread the message about the importance of remembering our fallen heroes, honoring those who serve and teaching our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms.

This year thousands of volunteers turned out to lay more than 227,000 wreaths on graves, including Morrill and Karen Worcester, along with their grandchildren placing the two millionth wreath nationwide in honor of U.S. Army Private William Christman, the very first soldier to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in May 1864.

This year's theme was “Don’t say I should have. Say I did.” Please visit with Julie and I to learn more about how to donate or volunteer next year and check out their website at wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Policy
The theme for the Wreath’s Across America “Don’t say I should have. Say I did.” also applies to our work in Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau policy.

Good, strong, solid policy takes time and effort. The members of our local Farm Bureaus have determined their county policies and forwarded their state and national recommendations. Our State Farm Bureaus have determined their state policies and forwarded their national recommendations to the AFBF Resolutions Committee. The AFBF Resolutions Committee, which is made up of the state presidents of our 50 states and Puerto Rico, will forward a comprehensive set of recommendations to the 355 voting delegates who will meet at our 96th Annual Meeting January 13 in San Diego.

Get involved and be at the table so that we can tell future generations that we stood up for what was right for feeding the world and protecting our environment for future generations. “Don’t say I should have. Say I did.”

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