Wreaths Across America Guest Blog
By George Vukovich
An ordinary wreath is transformed into a powerful symbol when it is leaning against the headstone of a fallen member of our military. The simple greenery becomes majestic, the red bow a bright beacon of hope and remembrance during the holiday season.
More than 1 million wreaths will be placed on the graves of the fallen on Saturday, December 17, 2016, when hundreds of thousands of volunteers gather on National Wreaths Across America Day at more than 1,000 participating cemeteries across the country. Volunteers participate in wreath-laying ceremonies to remember those who have given their lives, to honor those who serve and to teach younger generations about the value of their freedoms.
American Military University, with our strong military heritage, has proudly supported Wreaths Across America since 2011 and has again donated 1,000 wreaths for Arlington National Cemetery this year.
We were founded as American Military University (AMU) 25 years ago to educate those who serve. Our founder, a retired Marine Corps officer, envisioned an innovative way to offer quality and affordable education to our U.S. Armed Forces. We've since grown to serve a diverse population of military, public service and corporate professionals.
More Than 1000 Volunteers Will Come Together Again Next Month
In 2015, more than 1,000 members of the AMU community volunteered on Wreaths Across America Day at Arlington National Cemetery and 21 other locations nationwide. This December, our community will come together once again to support this important event at more than 30 locations.
Wreaths Across America Day is an emotional event for everyone, but especially for anyone who has served in the Armed Forces. The families of the fallen receive peace of mind knowing that in this one small expression of gratitude from others, their loved ones have not been forgotten.
Join volunteers across the country in laying wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers on December 17. When you do, please take a moment to read the name on the headstone and remember it is an honor to offer gratitude and feel that connection. It is an experience you will not soon forget.
"I was very determined to survive the war. I never thought I would not survive. If I had allowed myself to think that I would have been done. My big goal was to revenge my past but not with bitterness and vengeance."
Jeff says a lot of drivers who work for Buchheit think it would be exciting to participate in the Wreaths Across America effort. They're right! However, hauling a truckload of America's respect is a privileged duty reserved for certain employees.
It seems fitting that on Earth Day this year Wreaths Across America will pay tribute to our nation's EOD Technicians in a Stem to Stone Tree-Tagging event on April 22 during which the names of over three hundred fallen service members will be said aloud as their replica dog tags are placed on the tip land in Maine.
Mike and Barbara are proud and patriotic Americans who understand the great personal sacrifices of our military families. They have also witnessed the powerful impact one fresh balsam fir wreath with a red bow has on the living. Mike gets choked up when he recalls one particular example.
"We're always conscientious about the carbon footprint we leave so we have to be sure the process is safe, efficient, and compliant with federal regulations," Debbie explains. "We want to make sure it's fuel efficient and a good run, that we've got the truck full, that a rested driver is ready to go, and all that plays into the coordination effort."
Nicole says she's thankful for those fellow Location Coordinators who have helped her and she's honored to provide the same support to those who might be thinking about starting a Wreaths Across America ceremony in their community cemetery.
It was inspiring last year when Jimmy and his wife Cathy realized their volunteer effort with Wreaths Across America was helping the organization grow and indeed making an impression on younger generations.
“The trucking community has been extremely dedicated to Wreaths Across America over the years, but support doesn’t come exclusively from drivers,” Karen Worcester explained. “Some of the most important contributions come from those behind the scenes, like Wendy.
Bill admits he too was "hooked" on the effort to remember, honor, and teach as soon as he saw a fresh, hand-made remembrance wreath laying against the headstone of a fallen hero over the holidays.
Peter stands 16.3 hands tall and was selected as a Caisson Platoon horse because of his color, size, focus, and behavior. Those who met Peter at his Open House on St. Patrick's Day were amazed at his size and docile temperament with one woman referring to him as a "gentle giant."
"It doesn't all happen in Arlington. It's all across the country, and perhaps you could start your involvement in your hometown and involve your family so people can see just how important trucking is to the mission.
"It makes these drivers feel good about themselves, it makes them feel good about their companies, it makes them feel good about their country and being Americans. They're so proud and when you've got all those things working in the same direction that's a win-win for everybody."