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.
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.