The Annual Wreath Escort from Maine to Virginia for National Wreaths Across America Day is about to get underway!
The excitement across the country is palpable as volunteers continue to sponsor veterans' remembrance wreaths to be sure no one is forgotten, and put finishing touches on their ceremonies that will remember our fallen veterans, honor those who serve and their families, and teach younger generations the value of freedom.
Members of our Honor Fleet are loading their trucks, and many are already on the road transporting America's respect in the form of veterans' remembrance wreaths.
The annual escort has become known as the country's longest veterans parade, and this year, the weeklong journey kicks off on Saturday, Dec. 9. Grand Marshals – Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipient, Colonel Roger Donlon, U.S. Army Special Forces (Retired) and his wife, Norma, a Vietnam-era Gold Star wife – will lead the caravan as it travels down the East Coast stopping at schools, memorials, and other locations along the way.
The escort is scheduled to make stops in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Washington D.C. before arriving at Arlington National Cemetery on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 16 – National Wreaths Across America Day. To view the schedule, please visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/escort.
"I had the pleasure of visiting Maine this past summer and walking on the tip land where the balsam used to make wreaths for fellow veterans is grown, and tagged individual trees for some of my friends who never made it home. The experience touched me deeply, and I am proud to have the opportunity to share my story and the mission of Wreaths Across America with those who will listen," said Roger Donlon, MOH recipient, and escort co-grand marshal. "As people who have dedicated our lives to the service of our military and their families, to have the opportunity to play a small role in this important mission is both an honor and privilege," added Norma Donlon, escort co-grand marshal.
Chevrolet, who has generously sponsored the escort vehicles transporting participating Gold Star families and veterans for the last three years, will again provide 12 wrapped vehicles in addition to sponsoring 4,000 wreaths for Arlington.
"It is difficult to express what this organization means to our employees and customers. I have never experienced anything as moving as participating in the escort of wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery," said Dan Adamcheck, regional director, sales, service, and marketing for Chevrolet. "We are honored to be a part of this great program and to help spread awareness for the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach."
Escort participants include American Gold Star Mothers, Blue Star Families, Gold Star Wives of America, veterans and the Wreaths Across America extended family. Members of the Patriot Guard Riders, Patriot Riders of America and Rolling Thunder will flank the escort along with law enforcement from Maine to ensure safe transport for all participants throughout the week.
Eleven tractor-trailers representing Walmart Transportation, Schneider National, Oakhurst Dairy, Witte Bros. Exchange, Inc., Hartt Transportation Systems, Inc., Delhaize Transportation LLC (DBA Hannaford Supermarkets), American Trucking Associations – Share the Road, Pottle's Transportation, Cargo Transporters, Inc., Nestle Waters North America, Inc. (DBA Poland Spring Bottling Company) and North State Transportation driven by Gold Star father Scott Harris, will haul a portion of the 245,700 sponsored wreaths heading to Arlington National Cemetery for placement on Dec. 16.
What began as a pilgrimage by Maine wreath maker, Morrill Worcester, in a single truck to deliver 5,000 wreaths he donated to Arlington in 1992 has become a national mission more than 25 years later to Remember, Honor, Teach.
In just a few days, Paulette and her fellow Troop Greeters will welcome veterans, Gold Star families, and other traveling dignitaries who are part of the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery.
Grand Marshals – Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipient, Colonel Roger Donlon, U.S. Army Special Forces (Retired) and his wife, Norma, a Vietnam-era Gold Star wife – will lead the caravan as it travels down the East Coast stopping at schools, memorials, and other locations along the way.
Driver Pat Wortham is an independent contractor for Dart Transit and a member of the Wreaths Across America honor fleet. He also has a rich history of military service in his family.
The holidays are traditionally celebrated with music so tune into WAA Radio throughout the holidays to hear musical Season's Greetings from some of the finest musicians in America!
"I was only 21 at the time, and we didn't know what we had come upon. The conditions were horrible, and there were all those people in striped pajamas."
"This contribution, like the one we made last year, will help provide an opportunity for professional drivers to transport wreaths across the United States.
Rhonda says she's experienced the "power of the wreath" watching people react to her daughter's presentations.
The telegram from the Department of War said that Albert and two other men had been shot down near Wollseifen, Germany, on Dec. 12, and that they had been missing since.
Yes! There's still time to sponsor a veterans' remembrance wreath in time for National Wreaths Across America Day.
"We were replacements," explained Charles. "My best friend Luke Moore and I went over together. He was a First scout, and I was a Second scout. We were taking a town when we were shot at by a sniper..."
Wreaths Across America is forever grateful for the thousands of volunteers who place veterans' remembrance wreaths on the headstones of our fallen as they say their names aloud every December. Remember, we are guests on the hallowed grounds of participating cemeteries and we ask that you honor their rules and regulations. If you're volunteering at Arlington this year, here's what you need to know.
Wreaths Across America announces open loads available as the Honor Fleet expands to transport America's Respect.
"I remember back then when we were told several times Vincent wouldn't make it through the night and I went to the chapel and said, 'God is there anything I can do to change your mind? He's our only son."
"One thing I will never forget is getting into Arlington and it was a cold, rainy day with freezing rain, and I remember looking around at all the empty headstones thinking to myself oh my God how are we going to do this."
"As part of our Wreaths Across America project, we work with the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Explorers, Young Marines, and sometimes 4H members," Mike explains. "We try to engage our groups the way that I think the founder of Wreaths Across America intended."
The Civil Air Patrol Cadets meant the world to Rick. For three years he accompanied cadets to Arlington National Cemetery and assisted with laying wreaths at the cemetery. This trip changed the lives of many cadets.
"It was so moving coming down I95 because people were waving flags, honking their horns, giving us thumbs up, and saluting us."
"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.