Wreaths Across America receives no government funding to support operations. Motivated and dedicated patriots across the country and at locations overseas power the Maine-based nonprofit organization. The mission to remember, honor, and teach is carried out daily by millions of citizens who care deeply for those who have served our nation in the armed forces, and their families. Some of these remarkable individuals are veterans themselves or come from military families while others are driven by a deep sense of patriotism and community service.
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 special stories will introduce you to the men and women of the industry who make the mission possible.
"Anyone who's moved cross-country once in their life will tell you it's tough and when you're doing it multiple times in your military career, and at the pay rates some of these guys work at, that's a sacrifice in itself."
Don Queeney Owner and Vice President of Hampton Roads Moving and Storage in Suffolk, Virginia has relocated military families for most of his professional career and appreciates all they do in service to the country. He is also a supporter of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach, recruited four years ago by another professional mover, Steven Meyer.
Don has hauled balsam remembrance wreaths in the past, but it was his experiences in 2016 on the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery as an Escort Chauffer that he gained a full appreciation of the impact the organization has on military families and the nation.
Driving an escort vehicle in which interviews were being conducted for J.B. Hunt he was able to hear firsthand the stories of some of the Gold Star families who had lost loved ones.
"I thought I knew what to expect," Don admits. "But, it was above and beyond that, and at times I was blown away, going from one emotion to the next. At one point when we arrived at the St. Bernard School and the band was playing, and kids were waving flags shouting U.S.A., U.S.A. I was bawling inside. I was just hugging everyone I could find."
It was a powerful moment for Don knowing Americans sponsored over a million wreaths that were on their way to cemeteries throughout the nation to honor veterans and to personally witness other citizens celebrate their pride and patriotism along the escort route.
"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."
Don himself has not donned a uniform of the armed forces, but his father served in World War II, and his family history shows military involvement dated back to the Revolutionary War. Aside from his deep appreciation and respect for those who serve Don is a self-proclaimed "logistics junkie" excited by the complexity involved with moving fresh, hand-made balsam fir remembrance wreaths from Downest Maine to points all across the country in a short amount of time.
"In addition to driving an escort vehicle back in December, I helped setting up some cross-dock situations. I assisted Rob and the team in developing some unique ways of getting some loads onto smaller trucks so a big tractor trailer didn't need to find a cemetery in "small town, USA" and find itself in an area that couldn't accommodate a bigger truck."
As Wreaths Across America expands with volunteers investing time and effort in their communities to be sure no hometown hero goes unacknowledged, the coordination of transporting America's respect will be a monumental task Don is eager and willing to support.
Don encourages others in the industry to get involved with the Wreaths Across America mission.
"Yes, there is some time and expense involved for certain, but I can go on record saying there's not a person who has done it once who wouldn't say, I'd do it again; it's too moving."
Thank you, Don Queeney and Hampton Roads Moving and Storage for your patriotism and tireless support of Wreaths Across America.
You can hear more from Don and other patriots in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio weekdays at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern.
"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.
Yes. At Wreaths Across America, we've heard about the "Walmart Heart," and we're honored to be welcoming a group next month that has decided to combine their charity effort with their patriotism and respect.
Brandon says last year spending time at Arlington National Cemetery on National Wreaths Across America Day with fellow employees of Cowan Systems, Inc. was an educational and humbling experience.
"It's been a dream of mine to go back to Arlington with my Mom to be a part of National Wreaths Across America Day to place remembrance wreaths on my grandparents' graves."
According to Gretchen CFI went above and beyond two years ago when they helped make her dream come true.
"When we did that project we had one hundred and thirty-five of our employees at that time who had served in the military and that's a big percentage of employees for one company. We think that it's important to recognize their service."
Christa Parker's love for her son, country, and volunteerism with Wreaths Across America knows no boundaries, quite literally. Her volunteer efforts frequently have her crossing states lines and her stamina and organizational efforts are an inspiration to all.
When asked if he could describe the power of the veterans' remembrance wreath he admitted it was a challenge to put into words, yet hesitated only for a moment.
One highlight from this year's performance came when Six-String Soldiers invited children of all ages to the stage to sing along with them, the Rick Charrette song, I'm An American! It echoed through the valley where replica dog tags of fallen heroes hang among the balsam fir trees' tips that will be used to make veterans remembrance wreaths.
"Rain, snow, or sunshine as you know these guys walk the walk, so we're here to dedicate this section of the tip land to the Old Guard," proclaims Wayne Hanson, Chairman of the Board for Wreaths Across America. "We certainly appreciate everything they do for us."