12/17/2012 12:15 pm ET Updated Dec 17, 2012

Wreaths Across America 2012: Arlington National Cemetery Volunteers Lay 110,000 Wreaths (PHOTOS)


ARLINGTON, Va. -- More than 20,000 volunteers laid some 110,000 wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday.

This annual tradition began in 1992, when Morrill Worcester, the owner of a Maine wreath company, sent 5,000 excess wreaths which were placed on graves by 50 volunteers.

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Arlington National Cemetery Wreath-Laying

In 2006, Worcester told Army News Service how this initial donation came about:

"We had ordered more than we could sell in '92. They were nice, fresh wreaths I didn't want to just throw away," he recalled. "I happened to think of Arlington because I'd come here when I won a trip to Washington as a 12-year newsboy.

"I saw the changing of the Guard, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the acres and acres of graves ... it all just struck me ... a memory I've never forgotten," said Worcester. "So, I hoped Arlington would allow me to decorate the graves - they did, and so here we are."

"Wreaths Across America" now coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at military cemeteries across the United States.

This year, Worcester presented the millionth wreath to a mother, Mary Byers, whose son, Army Capt. Joshua Byers, was killed in Afghanistan, according to Stars and Stripes:

Byers, her husband, Lloyd, and Army Sgt. Justin Lansford — who was severely wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in April — later placed it at the grave of Vietnam veteran Wilbur Tresvant in Arlington's Section 60.

Also joining in the placing of wreaths were Maine Gov. Paul LePage and his wife, Ann.