When Mike Worcester first saw Arlington National Cemetery, he was only twelve years old. Working as a paperboy in Maine hundreds of miles to the north, he had won a trip to Virginia, an opportunity that was a highlight of his young life. While Worcester was excited to be so far away from home and seeing so many new, fascinating things, Arlington National Cemetery put a damper on his mood.

With hundreds of thousands of graves marking the final resting places of American soldiers killed in battle, Arlington National is a truly impressive sight. Like many others who have visited the cemetery over the years, Worcester was deeply affected by the experience, forming memories that would guide him in specific ways later in life. The sight of so many graves honoring those who had given their lives for the United States was something that Worcester would never forget.

Some years later, Worcester got his start in the world of business by establishing the Worcester Wreath Company. His home state of Maine is rife with balsam fir forests, thanks to the cool weather there, and those trees are the most valued of all for making beautiful christmas wreaths and similar decorations.

As is detailed at WorcesterWreath.com, the company distinguished itself early on in a number of ways. One of these that still stands out today is that it maintains its own, privately managed balsam fir forest, an asset that allows it to ensure the quality of its output. Another is that the company harvests its firs in an entirely sustainable way, only cutting off the tips of the trees to allow them to regrow over a period of a few years.

One of the most interesting features of the company, though, traces back to the young paperboy's experiences at Arlington National Cemetery. Founders of Wreaths Across America, Worcester Wreaths remains a major supporter of what is one of the most distinctive non-profits in the country today.

The roots of that organization date back to 1992, when Worcester worked with Senator Olympia Snowe to lay surplus wreaths at part of the cemetery that normally saw little traffic. Over the years, that initial effort grew in spectacular ways, leading eventually to the spinning off of Wreaths Across America as a separate organization.

Many years later, then, Worcester built something enduring that arose out of his experiences as a very young man. That charity continues to do work and grow to this day, now putting down wreaths every year at cemeteries in all 50 states and around the world.