"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.
"We have a dedicated group of compassionate people who come together to help military veterans," Rebecca explains. "If someone reaches out to us and says 'hey we need help getting a veteran's roof shingled' then we try to get it done."
“Every year we have so many professional drivers, bikers, police officers and other first responders, ask us how they can get involved, even if they can’t transport wreaths,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America.
"There are a lot of similarities between the military and the trucking industry," Rob explains. "I think that's why you see a lot of veterans successful as truck drivers."
Johnny Vet: Freedom Isn’t Free is a dynamic and inspirational musical journey of the men and women who have fought the nation’s wars and how those same men and women, as veterans, have helped to shape the nation and its destiny.
"History can be studied in many ways, and it's important to do so for a contextual understanding of the journey taken by an individual, organization, or nation."
"It's heart-wrenching to see that and participate in that, Rick shares. "To see all the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles waiting there to have a wreath to place on their family member's headstone, there are just no words for it, none."
"We're just Moms who serve through the organization to make sure that our children's names and lives are not forgotten."
From our standpoint, it's a relatively small thing to do, and we're proud to be a part of the mission."
"With NFI managing the logistics, the sky is the limit. They will help make the entire operation more efficient,” said Debbie Sparks, Director Corporate Development and Community Relations, Wreaths Across America.
Luann started her volunteer efforts with Wreaths Across America in 2015 after hearing about it from a friend who was participating with her DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) group. She's working to sponsor wreaths to cover all of the known heroes laid to rest at Oaklawn.
"I always choose our drivers who are military veterans for these loads and they are proud and honored to have the opportunity to recognize our fallen heroes and their families."
In referencing the Wreaths Across America Stem to Stone Remembrance Tree program Roger spoke to the value and necessity of "planting seeds of patriotism" in younger generations.
Monica explains Maverick has a tremendous amount of pride hauling America's respect and not only do they assign the wreath loads to their drivers who are veterans but those drivers are some of the industry's best.
The September edition of the Military Musicians Showcase goes out to jazz lovers!
As Aaron Van Beek, Location Coordinator for Sioux Center, Iowa placed Chris Kyle's tag in Maine the announcement was made that the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation and Wreaths Across America have agreed to collaborate with the support of their respective programs.
Helen told us about her brother, Ralph H. Johnson, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously following his heroic actions in Vietnam in 1968.