They left Harrington Sunday morning, Dec. 5, a brigade of trucks and law enforcement vehicles bearing 200,000 wreaths that will be laid in more than 500 veterans’ cemeteries and memorials nationwide and 24 national cemeteries abroad.

Wreaths Across America honors the service and sacrifice of military veterans from the United States and Canada, and this year, the tradition began with a Dec. 4 wreath exchange on Ferry Point Bridge, which spans the St. Croix River and connects Calais and St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

“Our mission is to remember the fallen, honor those who serve and teach our children the value of freedom,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America, in a press release. The Worcester family is the owner of Worcester Wreath Co. in Harrington, and the founders of Wreaths Across America.

The bridge event kicked off a full week of activity for Wreaths Across America, which is providing remembrance wreaths for wreath-laying ceremonies. The largest event is Dec. 11 at Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, D.C., where 24,000 wreaths will be placed. Numerous wreath-laying ceremonies will be held within the cemetery grounds at various memorials, as well as at the Pentagon and war memorials on the National Mall.

Wreaths bound for Arlington were transported on a 750-mile journey from Harrington. The route is one of this country’s longest annual veterans’ celebrations, as veterans groups and other local organizations showed support for the project with parades and ceremonies at 26 stops along the way. Many motorcyclists from the Patriot Guard Riders, an organization of more than 65,000 whose primary mission is to attend the funerals of fallen heroes nationwide, will accompany the trucks to Arlington.

The Honoring Allies and Remembering Together ceremony on the border was organized to recognize all veterans, including young men and women from Canada who are serving or served in the U.S. military. Participants included American Gold Star Mothers, Canadian Mothers of the Silver Cross families, Civil Air Patrol (the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force), Cadets Canada (the Department of National Defense) and dignitaries representing both nations.

Wreaths Across America began in 2006 as an offshoot of the Arlington National Cemetery wreath project, which was started in 1992 with the annual placement of wreaths donated by Worcester Wreath Co. Today, it is a monumental initiative, with partners like CAP, the Patriot Guard Riders, the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C., and other veterans’ groups participating, not to mention the tens of thousands of private citizens who purchase wreath sponsorships.