Monday December 17, 2012 | 02:07 PM

WASHINGTON – On Saturday, dozens of Mainers were at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia for the annual wreath-laying ceremonies organized by Wreaths Across America, a Maine-based organization.

As I wrote in an article for the Maine Sunday Telegram (available here), the wreath-laying ceremonies seemed to offer the thousands of participants a chance to collectively mourn the children killed in Newtown, Conn., one day earlier while also honoring those buried at Arlington.

Here are a few more photos and details of the ceremonies that didn’t make it into the paper.

Mainers played prominent roles in every aspect of Saturday’s events and none more so than Morrill and Karen Worcester of Worcester Wreath Co. in Harrington, where the tradition began 20 years ago.

But dozens of police officers and firefighters from throughout the state, motorcyclists from the Maine Patriot Guard Riders (who escorted the convoy in the cold from Maine), students at Portland’s Cheverus High School and other Mainers also made the trip south.

Walking with four Maine State Police members – Detective Elmer Farren and Troopers John Kyle, Trevor Snow and Kyle Willette – I witnessed numerous people stop the men to thank and even pose for pictures with them after noticing their Maine State Police patches.

Arlington National Cemetery, which is the final resting place for more than 400,000 veterans and their family members, is always a moving sight. Seeing more than 100,000 wreaths – many of them Maine-made – resting against the simple, white headstones is even more moving.

Everything about Arlington is symbolic, so it was hard not to read symbolism into even unplanned events on Saturday.

I was walking with Officer Kevin Haley of the Portland Police Department and a group of others when a bald eagle – not nearly as common a sight in DC as in Maine – flew only a few dozen feet above our heads. Moments later, another eagle followed the same flight path through the trees and over the rows of veterans’ headstones.

Everyone paused to look up. Then someone from the group added: “He must have come down from Maine, too.”

From left, Officer Chris Coyne with the Portland Police Department, Sgt. Steven Thibodeau with the Scarborough Police Department and Lt. Janine Roberts with the Portland Police Department salute after laying wreaths at the grave of President John F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery. Thibodeau’s wife, Paulette (in red), and mother, Sheila, also participated in the ceremony as part of the annual Wreaths Across America program.

Volunteers lined up an hour early behind tractor trailers carrying wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, as part of the Maine-based Wreaths Across America program.

Wreaths lean against headstones at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia as part of the Wreaths Across America program, which Maine wreath-maker Morrill Worcester began 20 years ago.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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