The Wreaths Across America caravan stops in China

The caravan stops for lunch at Hannaford, in China. (photo by Eric Austin)

by Eric W. Austin

The Hannaford parking lot in South China was unusually crowded on Sunday, December 11, as the Wreaths Across America caravan stopped in China on its way to Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia, to lay wreaths during this holiday season on the graves of America’s fallen heroes.

The caravan consisted of semi-trucks loaded with donated wreaths, the police cars, blue lights flashing, to escort them, and the many volunteers that help with the effort. Hannaford provided lunch for the volunteers on this stop in China before they headed to their next stop in Lewiston.

(photo by Eric Austin)

“They say you die twice,” a Gold-Star mother told me in the parking lot. “Once physically and once when people stop saying your name.” Her son had died in the Iraq war, she said, and two of her daughters are currently serving. She pointed to a photo that was part of the display on the side of one of the semi-trucks parked behind us. It showed three U.S. soldiers embarking from a helicopter in full combat gear. One of them, she said, was her son. She explained how the families of veterans who have died in the line of duty lay a wreath on their grave and say their name aloud, because it is important that these brave men and women are never forgotten. They live on in the memories of those who loved them.

The Wreaths Across America effort began in 2006 when the Worcester Wreath Co., in Harrington, Maine, posted a photo of wreaths they had laid at the graves of veterans at the national cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia. The photo went viral and the initiative quickly grew to encompass more than 100 locations across the U.S.

Anyone wishing to sponsor a wreath or find out more about the program can reach out through their website at


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