Volunteers will lay wreaths on veterans graves in five Biddeford cemeteries starting at 9 a.m. on Dec. 18, Wreaths Across America Day. Here,, Pam Payeur and her 6 1/2 year-old grandson John John placed wreaths on veterans graves at St. Joseph Cemetery in Biddeford during the event in 2020. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — Fragrant, green Christmas wreaths adorned with red bows will be placed on veteran’s graves in five Biddeford cemeteries on Wreaths Across America Day, starting at 9 a.m. on Dec. 18.

Organizer Graig Morin said he has had “tons” of help from city leaders, businesses and individuals who want to make sure those who served their country in peacetime and in wartime are remembered this holiday season.

The Wreaths Across America convoy will make the trek from Lubec, in Down East Maine starting Saturday, Dec. 11, stopping at various locations on its way to Arlington National Cemetery, for Wreaths Across America Day. Just as veterans will be honored at the nation’s veterans cemetery that day, they will be honored in Biddeford and cities and towns across America.

Morin, owner of Brown Dog Carriers & Logistics, has been involved with Wreaths Across America for several years, providing trucks to haul wreaths to Arlington and to other veterans’ cemeteries along the way, as he is this year.

But he wanted to bring Wreaths Across America Day to his hometown, and in 2020, with the help of others, was able to do so.

Morin had a personal reason — he wanted to honor his grandfather, World War II veteran Gerard Morin, who died on Jan 30, 2020, just a few months before his 100th birthday.

With the help of local companies, organizations and a willing army of volunteers, the wreaths were purchased and on a bright sunny Sunday, were laid last year, all 3,060 of them, at St. Mary Cemetery, St. Joseph Cemetery, St. Demetrios Cemetery, Woodlawn Cemetery and Greenwood Cemetery.

And it will happen again this year.

Morin said when he decided to bring Wreaths Across America to Biddeford’s cemeteries a year ago, the response from the public — during the height of the pandemic — was amazing. Not only did local companies sign on to purchase wreaths, but individuals did as well. He said he gets cards from the spouses of those who served, thanking him for organizing the event.

This year, Morin said he started fundraising for the project late in the season. His company contributed $15,000; Landry and French construction, $5,000, and there were additional donations from businesses, organizations, and individuals.

That first year, volunteers turned out to place wreaths with smiles on their faces, and he expects a good turnout this year too.

“They’re doing something that is meaningful to them,” Morin said. He said he believes the event is good for the community — and one he expects to continue.

In 2020, the volunteer response was multigenerational, with parents and grandparents bringing their young ones to place wreaths. Among those volunteering last year was Pam Payeur, who stood by as her 6 1/2-year-old grandson John brushed snow from a veteran’s headstone at St. Joseph Cemetery before placing a wreath.

Linda and Roger Roy of Lyman were also among the volunteers placing wreaths in 2020. Roger Roy, who served during the Vietnam War era, said he has three uncles buried at St. Joseph, all who served in World War II. The couple felt it was important to be at the event. “It’s paying respect,” said Roger Roy.

The story of Wreaths Across America began in the early 1990s, when Morrill Worcester, a wreathmaker in Columbia, in Washington County, took 5,000 surplus wreaths and secured permission to place them on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. Later, the nonprofit Wreaths Across America Foundation was formed and now thousands of wreaths are sponsored and placed at Arlington and on veterans’ graves in cemeteries across the country.

Wreath laying begins at 9 a.m.

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