"We want Michael to be proud of us, and we know he'd want us just to keep pushing through no matter what," says Gold Star Mother Tammy Stansbery.
Tammy's son Michael L. Stansbery Jr. U.S. Army is buried in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery, and they reconnected on National Wreaths Across America Day 2016. Tammy and her husband, former Marine and professional driver Mike Stansbery of Tennessee had the honor of participating in a portion of the WAA Escort to Arlington as well as the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Uknown back in December.
Wreaths Across America met Mike back in 2015 when he picked up remembrance wreaths in Maine he was trucking to Fayetteville, Arkansas for J.B. Hunt.
As a Gold Star dad, Mike was given an opportunity to select a Family Tree among the balsam firs growing on the tip land in Washington County as part of the WAA Stem to Stone program. At that time, Mike said he was honored to be transporting his truckload of respect to another part of the country, but would one day like to be involved with the Arlington events considering his son is buried there. When Mike tagged the tree in honor of Michael Jr., he described his son's devotion to the country.
The Stanbery's exemplify the strength of character and courage that has built this country. Despite their personal sacrifice of their son in service to the nation and Tammy's battle with cancer, they continue to push through their grief and physical challenges to serve as volunteers honoring the lives and sacrifices of others.
Wreaths Across America is grateful and gives thanks for the service and commitment of proud Americans like the Stansbery's.
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."
"I've seen the pictures of course," Don explains. "It's just not the same to see every-day people not affiliated with Wreaths Across America in any other way would take the effort to buy a fresh flag and stand outside of their home or office in the freezing drizzle and show their pride as an American as we drove through was heart-warming."
Indeed it was the joyous voices of children singing on a snowy morning in December last year at Kennebunk High School during the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery that gave rise to the 2017 Wreaths Across America theme, "I'm an American."
Placing fresh, hand-made balsam remembrance wreaths on the headstones of veterans across the country in December requires tremendous logistics and unyielding support from the trucking industry.
Wreaths Across America shows its gratitude and appreciation for all those involved in transporting America's respect with "Trucking Tributes." These stories will introduce you to the men and women of the industry who make our mission possible like Steven Meyer and Arpin Van Lines.
"Wreaths Across America has been a part of my life that has assisted in my healing from the loss of my oldest son," Diana explains. "It allows me to "give back" in his memory and service." Read more about Diana's volunteer service in Kansas and how you can get involved too in our mission to remember, honor, and teach.
"All Michael ever wanted to do is join the military and serve the country," explains Gold Star Dad and professional driver Mike Stansbery. Michael Jr. was killed in Iraq in 2010. In this video, you can see how the Stansbery's have been able to honor Michael from Stem to Stone.
"When the ship was opened up by a German U-Boat torpedo it began to take on water and sink. Witnesses report that through the pandemonium four Army Chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness." Read about WAA's tree dedication to the Four Chaplains here.
Despite freezing rain, an estimated 44,000 volunteers placed 245,000 remembrance wreaths, and many hands on January 28th will make quick work of picking up those wreaths. Details Here.
Wreaths Across America launched its inaugural Living History Project in December of 2016 with the support of stalwart volunteers who believe similarly as Col. Frank Blazich Jr. that "if you don't know where you've been then it's difficult to know where you're going." See video here.
The mission to honor those who serve and their families is important to Wayne on a deeply personal level. As a Vietnam Veteran, Wayne recalls there was no "welcome home" and the disrespectful treatment returning soldiers received was disheartening. Read more about WAA's Chairman of the Board and his commitment to WAA here.
Traveling from eastern Maine to Virginia, the convoy of escort vehicles and tractor-trailer rigs filled with balsam fir remembrance wreaths often stretched for miles as it rolled down the highway stopping at schools, American Legion posts, and other community centers. Citizens lined the streets and overpasses waving flags, holding signs, and shouting "thank you" or rhythmically chanting "USA, USA, USA!" See excerpts from the West Point Sunrise Ceremony here.
Wreaths Across America thanks you for an extraordinary year and challenges you to extend our mission to remember, honor, and teach into 2017. See this "special request" video.
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.