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 stories will introduce you to the men and women of the industry who make the mission possible.
Not all of our trucking industry partners are what we refer to as rolling ambassadors. Some are quite stationary in fact, but their dedication and commitment to the Wreaths Across America mission to remember our fallen, honor those who currently serve, and teach younger generations the value of freedom is unparalleled.
Enter Wendy Hamilton who's the Senior Manager of Sales Marketing for Pilot Flying J a series of almost seven-hundred travel center across the United States and Canada.
"Our core customer and guest at our locations is the professional truck driver," Wendy explains of their position in the trucking industry.
Wendy first got involved the way so many do which has made Wreaths Across America one of the largest, grassroots nonprofit in America. A friend told her about their experience with the organization.
"Cari Baylor, President of Baylor Trucking, brought to me at an ATA (American Trucking Associations) event in Pheonix, Arizona the idea of Wreaths Across America, and when I heard about it, I fell in love with the concept of honoring our military, especially fallen service members. Cari brought it to me in a way that showed me without the trucking industry the wreaths don't get to the specific cemeteries across the country that allow us to honor those fallen."
That was in 2010 and Wendy says through her involvement with the Truckload Carriers Association's (TCA) Image Policy Committee has allowed her company to expand its involvement in supporting the mission.
"Pilot Flying J has become a significant corporate sponsor supporting the events hosted for Wreaths Across America by TCA, and at our locations by offering promotions where a portion of the proceeds from a cup of coffee went back to Wreaths Across America. In 2016, this promotion was so successful Pilot Flying J and our guests were able to cover a section of Arlington by sponsoring remembrance wreaths."
Wendy's enthusiasm and appreciation for the mission is a personal one. Her grandfather, Daryl Stanley Freeman served in the Air Force during World War II, and the Korean War eventually retiring from the Tennessee Air National Guard, and her other grandfather, James Allen Lovell served in the Army Airborne. Additionally coincidental to Wendy's familial background, one of them also worked in sales and marketing for the trucking industry and the other was a professional driver.
Wendy's involvement with Wreaths Across America is one she readily shares with her family relishing the opportunity to teach her son.
"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. Those professional drivers, many of whom are veterans themselves are trucking freight across the nation every day to keep our economy moving, and they're taking time out of their schedule to transport wreaths to those who have served our country. In my mind, they are heroes delivering to heroes."
Thank you, Wendy Hamilton and Pilot Flying J for your patriotism and tireless support of Wreaths Across America.You can hear more from Wendy 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."