WHAT’S GOING ON?
Thousands of wreaths bound for Arlington National Cemetery will stop in Middletown this week for a special ceremony on Cochran Square to acknowledge the sacrifice of the nation’s fallen servicemen and woman.
Wreaths Across America, the world’s largest veteran’s parade, will be making its only stop in Delaware this week, when more than a dozen tractor-trailers will carry the wreathes from the Hampton Inn on Sandhill Drive to the World War I monument on Cochran Square at the southwest corner of Main and Broad streets.
Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner, along with representatives of local veterans’ organizations and first responders, will then offer remarks during a brief ceremony attended by Wreaths Across America founders Morrill and Karen Worcester and Maine’s First Lady Ann LePage.
The ceremony will be followed by a dinner at Volunteer Hose Company’s firehouse at 27 W. Green St.
WHAT IS IT?
Wreaths Across America began in 1992 when Morrill Worcester, the owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, found himself with a surplus in advance of the holiday season.
With the help of former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, Worcester arranged to have the extra wreaths placed on a few dozen graves at the national cemetery in Arlington, Va.
The wreath company continued the tribute each year thereafter, with the tradition gaining national attention in 2005 when a photo of the wreaths went viral online.
Since then, Wreaths Across America has expanded through donations and volunteer efforts to include nearly 150,000 wreaths in Arlington, as well as another 350,000 to be laid simultaneously at 900 other locations throughout the world on Dec. 14.
This year, wreaths will be laid at Cooch’s Bridge Battlefield near Newark, the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear and the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Millsboro.
In addition to the wreath laying, Wreaths Across America also makes numerous stops on its journey from Maine to Virginia each year in an effort to raise awareness of the sacrifices made by the nation’s military.
“Our mission is to remember, honor and teach,” said spokeswoman Amber Caron. “Teaching is, perhaps, the most important part because that’s what allows us to continue remembering and honoring the cost of freedom in America.”
HOW WILL IT AFFECT ME?
The public is invited to line the streets to watch the parade pass by or attend the 5:30 p.m. ceremony at Cochran Square, where small flags will be handed out.
But even those who won’t be in attendance could be impacted by traffic restrictions that will be imposed to accommodate the parade.
Page 2 of 2 - The caravan of tractor-trailers, fire trucks, Patriot Guard Riders and a coach bus carrying out-of-state dignitaries will depart the Hampton Inn about 5 p.m. and travel up West Main Street before stopping around Cochran Square for the 5:30 p.m. ceremony.
U.S. Route 301 will be temporarily blocked off while the parade passes.
Meanwhile, traffic on West Main and South Broad streets will be impacted by lane closures to accommodate the large vehicles that will park around the square during the ceremony.