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.
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."