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.
Much like the military it supports, the success of Wreaths Across America comes from individuals throughout the country motivated by patriotism, honor, pride, a sense of duty and respect.
When you speak with Jimmy Shaw about his involvement with Wreaths Across America its difficult not to get caught up in his enthusiasm for and commitment to the organization's mission to remember, honor and teach.
The trucking industry has always been a part of Jimmy's life, and he's been a professional driver for almost forty years. In April, he celebrates his seventh year driving for Tyson Foods, Inc.
Jimmy is also a veteran of the U.S. Army having served with the 9th Infantry Division and then the 82nd Airborne, and he ultimately wound up in Germany with the 2nd Battalion 37th Armored in the 1st Armored Division on a mortar platoon providing infantry support.
Jimmy and his family have a long history of service to the nation with his father, Elmer Elroy Shaw, serving during the Korean War, and an uncle was in the U.S. Navy also during the Korean War. One of Jimmy's brothers and cousin served in Vietnam, and both of his sons have served; one was deployed to Iraq, the other Afghanistan.
"The drivers I picked last year to be involved said Jimmy we keep hearing you talk about it all the time but it doesn't click until you do it," Jimmy confirms. "From the day you get picked to get involved it just energizes you. You're proud to get involved, and from the moment you close your trailer door, and the last wreath is laid on National Wreaths Across America Day, you get started planning for next December."
Jimmy expresses why he feels so strongly about supporting the mission, particularly the teach objective.
"I believe the way the country is right now, they need to teach the younger generation to remember, honor, and respect our fallen and the men and women who are serving today. When I see people burning the flag and disrespecting the military, it just brings tears to my eyes. The people of today just don't understand what it takes to defend a nation."
It was inspiring last year when Jimmy and his wife Cathy realized their volunteer effort with Wreaths Across America was helping the organization grow and indeed making an impression on younger generations.
"My wife and I met a 16-year-old young woman who was coordinating a wreath laying ceremony in Maryland, and she blew us out of the water," Jimmy proudly stated. "She organized the whole event herself, got a General to come speak at the ceremony and when we had a tough time reaching her, she apologized and told us she was in school. She was amazing, and that's what it's all about, teaching the children. She had me in tears."
Jimmy says he's proud to represent Tyson Foods, Inc. and their support of Wreaths Across America. Every year, Tyson has increased its level of support to include more volunteers, additional trucks hauling wreaths, and food to feed drivers, Gold Star and Blue Star families, veterans and other VIP's during the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery send-off dinner held at WAA Headquarters in Columbia Falls, Maine.
Thank you, Jimmy Shaw and Tyson Foods, Inc. for your patriotism and tireless support of Wreaths Across America. You can hear more from Jimmy in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio weekdays at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern.