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Volunteers lay thousands of wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery

Win McNamee / Getty Images

United States Marine Corps Sgt. Jeremy Grotler kneels at the grave of his friend, Lance Cpl. Tyler O. Griffin, after laying a wreath on his headstone at Arlington National Cemetery Dec. 10, in Arlington, Va. Griffin, 19, died April 1, 2010 in Helmand, Afghanistan. Thousands of military and civilian volunteers laid 100,000 donated holiday wreaths on headstones at the cemetery. Donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine, the wreaths are now part of a 20-year tradition of decorating and honoring the graves of soldiers, sailors, Marines and guard members who served their country.

AP reports:

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Volunteers have laid tens of thousands of holiday wreaths at tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery.

Win McNamee / Getty Images

Josh Willette, age 2, salutes after laying a wreath on a headstone.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage joined thousands of volunteers Saturday in placing the wreaths. A convoy of more than 20 trucks left Maine last Sunday, bound for the cemetery across from the nation's capital.

The tradition began 20 years ago with little fanfare. Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Co. in Harrington, Maine, and others laid 5,000 wreaths on headstones that first year to give thanks to the nation's veterans.

Since then, it has grown into an organization called Wreaths Across America with ceremonies across the country.

Organizers said 15,000 people joined the effort at Arlington. The wreaths will be on view until Jan. 28.

Related story: 100K wreaths headed to Arlington National Cemetery

Jose Luis Magana / AP

Volunteer Pati Redmond of Frederick, Md., helps to lay holiday wreaths over the graves of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Dec. 10, during Wreaths Across America Day.