Wreaths Across America will be stopping at Thornton Academy in Saco on Monday for a ceremony at the school as the convoy of wreaths makes its way to Arlington National Cemetery. Here, students from Jameson Elementary School in Old Orchard Beach gather in front of a Wreaths Across America tractor-trailer in this 2018 Journal Tribune photo. Liz Gotthelf Photo

SACO — As it makes its way to Arlington National Cemetery, ferrying Christmas wreaths in honor of fallen veterans, the Wreaths Across America convoy will pause for an hour-long ceremony at Thornton Academy on Monday, Dec. 9.

As part of the 10:15 a.m. ceremony, the school will present a slide show featuring veterans from the Thornton Academy community, said TA spokeswoman Katie Beane.

“In order to accommodate our entire student body and faculty staff, the event is not open to the public, however it will be available for viewing on our Facebook page via Facebook live,” said Beane.

As well as the ceremony,  some local people will be making their way to Arlington National Cemetery for the wreath laying — including truckers taking part in the convoy, driving vehicles  from area companies.

Among those taking part will be Graig Morin, owner of Brown Dog Carriers of Biddeford, who is providing a truck that will be driven by Vietnam veteran Jim Costa to the country’s national cemetery.

Morin, who will be among those laying wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 14, got involved in the effort a couple of years ago. It was something he’d wanted to do, he said, but wasn’t able to provide a truck in the past.


While at a truck show in Kentucky, he ran into Rob Worcester, son of Merrill Worcester, who started laying wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery several years ago, prior to the founding of Wreaths Across America. Morin told the younger Worcester that he’d be in touch.

When Morin started Brown Dog Carriers, he did contact WAA, and hauled a load of wreaths to Bourne, Massachusetts, that first year, he said. In 2018, the company hauled wreaths to Bourne and to Arlington.

Among those at the Thornton Academy ceremony on Monday will be World War II Army veteran Gerard Morin, Graig Morin’s grandfather.

This year, Brown Dog Carriers, with Costa behind the wheel, will be hauling a trailer owned by the Maine Professional Drivers Association, full of Maine wreaths.

Denis Litalien, retired after 33 years in the industry, remains involved with the trucking association and he and his wife Debbie will be making their way to Arlington National Cemetery to help lay wreaths for the second year in a row.

“We’ve been wanting to get involved for a long time,” said Litalien. “Recognizing the veterans is the bottom line.”


There will be a number of trucks from local companies — or companies with local outlets — involved in the convoy, said Litalien, including Hannaford, Poland Spring, Walmart and a number of others, as well as Brown Dog Carriers.

The convoy leaves Harrington on Sunday, Dec. 8, following ceremonies the previous day at West Quoddy Head lighthouse in Lubec and at the international bridge that separates Calais, Maine, and St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. On Sunday night, the convoy stops in Portland for a ceremony at UNUM.

On Monday, Dec. 9, there is an 8 a.m. ceremony at Gorham High School, before the wreath convoy makes its way to Thornton Academy. It will then depart for Kittery.

There are stops in Massachusetts and Connecticut, before the convoy makes its way to New York and crosses the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey, where there are several stops on Wednesday. Then it’s on to Delaware, Maryland and Washington, D.C., where there will be a ceremonies Friday at the Vietnam and Korean war memorials, and the World War II memorial.

Saturday, Dec. 14 is Wreaths Across America Day, where following a ceremony, the laying of wreaths in  Arlington begins. A wreath is placed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at noon.


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