For those that would gather at the Marco Island Cemetery on Saturday, December 14th, the importance of their mission would not be deterred by a few rain clouds. In keeping with a perfectly written movie script, those clouds would part and the sun would shine down on those gathered for this solemn occasion.
Men, women and children would gather on this day across America to pay their respects to those that have made the sacrifice of service to the nation. From the American Revolution to the latest conflicts in the Middle East and the War on Terror, we the living would gather on that day. At Arlington Cemetery and even small-town communities such as Marco Island or even Penacook, New Hampshire, as well as more than 1,600 additional locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad they would pay their respects.
This unique celebration was begun due to a trip that a young paperboy in Harrington, Maine won. Morrill Worcester would never forget his trip to Washington D.C. and his tour of Arlington Cemetery, and as Worcester grew and was successful, he would always remember the great gift given to him and others due to the service to the nation by its veterans.
In 1992, when his company Worcester Wreath ended the Christmas Season with a surplus of his wonderful Christmas Wreaths, he chose to donate them to Arlington Cemetery and there began the 27-year history of the Wreaths Across America project which has grown steadily over the years, until today.
The event has grown each year. Last year a total of 1.8 million wreaths were laid in 2018 across the nation, with 253,000 alone laid at Arlington National Cemetery, placed there by 61,000 volunteers at Arlington.
On Marco Island, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) stepped up and took on the task of ensuring those laid to rest were not forgotten. They have begun the solemn duty of arranging for the ceremony to be done here at the Marco Island Cemetery on Bald Eagle Drive.
They joined with other sponsoring organizations across the country this last Saturday and began their ceremony sharply at noon with a welcoming statement from DAR Regent Pat Hancock from the Marco Chapter of the DAR. The Reverend Thomas McCulley would open the event with a prayer, a flyover by the Civil Air Patrol and a short presentation by both Regent Hancock and Lee Rubenstein who is the Commander of the local American Legion Post.
Members of Post 404 would lay wreaths at the Armed Forces Memorial at the Marco Cemetery. Each branch of the services were represented by individuals of the post and those wreaths were donated to the DAR by the Wreaths Across America Foundation.
Former longtime resident of Marco, Chris Curle was present to lay a wreath at her father’s grave, a major in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He flew 52 missions in the Pacific in B-17 and B-24’s in WWII, as well as her brother, Vietnam era veteran, Capt. Bradley Curle, who are both buried in the Marco Cemetery.
Another local family in attendance for the laying of the wreaths was represented by Rick Popoff and his brothers and sister, along with the great-grandchildren of veteran Victor Daniel Popoff, who was a highly decorated World War II U.S. Air Force Pilot.
The annual pilgrimage from Columbia Falls, Maine, to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia has become known as the world’s largest veterans’ parade, stopping at schools, monuments, veterans’ homes and communities all along the way to remind people how important it is to Remember, Honor and Teach.