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.
"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."
It was, in fact, a competitor of Abilene Motor Express who reached out to them to tell them about Wreaths Across America and Will says once the owners, Keith and Kolen Jones heard about the effort they were one hundred percent behind it right away.
Especially meaningful is the location of the Grove, which is adjacent to the soon-to-be-opened Medal of Honor Remembrance Park. From this vantage point, The Old Guard will continue to stand watch over America’s fallen heroes.
Kevin says driving Armellini's load of wreaths in the escort to VA National Cemetery in Lake Worth along with the Walmart trucks is a meaningful experience for him emotionally because of honoring veterans, but he says there's also a more physical kind of excitement as a professional driver.
Starting at the end of this month, as we countdown to Wreath Day, we would like to invite you to appear on our national webcast/webinar series to tell us about the local veterans buried in your community. We will also run your interview on WAA Radio and share on social media and in the newsletter.