Video: One man's tribute to fallen soldiers

By Bob Faw Correspondent
NBC News
updated 12/14/2006 8:28:06 PM ET 2006-12-15T01:28:06

Gently, respectfully, the colors of the season join with symbols of the ages.

Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery, 5,300 wreaths were laid. Fresh, Maine balsam, grown, harvested and assembled by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester, devoted father of six. Forty-five years ago, on his first trip to Washington, D.C., with newspaper delivery boys, he was awestruck by Arlington.

"Many people there gave the ultimate sacrifice; it's something you never forget," Morrill says.

So 14 years ago, Worcester, now prosperous, decided it was only fitting that Arlington get free wreaths at Christmas.

"The reason we do it is because we respect those people so much for what they've done for us," he says.

"You really feel a debt to these people?" I ask.

"I do. I think everyone should," Worcester says.

His neighbors are hardly rich, but when they saw what Worcester was doing, they pitched in.

The old, many of them veterans; the young, veterans to be; an entire community helping.

"It makes you feel good to do things for any veteran," Jeanette Perry says.

This year there's one big difference: this neighborhood operation is going nationwide, and has grown 200 fold. For that you can thank the Internet.

Worcester's Web site was so popular, it led to Wreaths Across America, which this holiday will distribute them at more than 200 veterans' cemeteries.

So this weekend, volunteers pinned, stacked and stuffed, loading 750 bulging boxes into a huge truck — also donated.

Moving out, saluted along the way, it traveled the backroads, slowly, finally reaching Arlington, where Thursday respect was paid to the people who, Worcester says, "gave the ultimate sacrifice; that's what they deserve."

Here, where the white goes on forever, in this season of giving, a community's gift of green and red lives on, too.

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