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.
"I see the effort with Wreaths Across America as just one way to give a little something back to our military and their families," expresses Shepard Dunn, President, and CEO of Bestway Express of Vincennes, Indiana who has been volunteering for Wreaths Across America for six years.
Shepard originally learned of Wreaths Across America through his friendships with industry icons Barry Pottle and the late Bob Baylor. He got better acquainted with the mission to remember, honor, and teach through the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and his leadership involvement with the Truckload Carrier Association (TCA). Not only has Shepard invested his time he's shared the experience and lessons of respect and community service with his family.
"I told my wife we've got to do this; it's good stuff," recalls Shepard after his first visit alone to witness Arlington National Cemetery on National Wreaths Across America Day. "Each year I've taken one of my three children, and it was a great experience for them. They got to see what giving is with this organization. We just got more and more involved as the years went on."
Last year, Shepard and his wife shuttled Gold Star families in the annual wreath Escort to Arlington.
"Wow, what a trip! What a fabulous trip! It was grueling and difficult with a lot of folks getting sick with colds or flu, but it was great people doing amazing things, and we were so happy to be a part of it," Shepard reminisces.
Shepard, Steven Meyer, and Don Queeney have all independently expressed during interviews deep pride in their company's service and commitment to remembering our nation's fallen heroes and honoring their families.
"We [Bestway Express] began hauling wreaths five or six years ago from Maine down to Virginia, not as part of the Escort but as one of the trucks staged inside the cemetery," explains Shepard. "The operations team always pick among our employees who are veterans to take the load into Arlington, and we typically have to take these gentlemen off the road for about two weeks. We're based out of Indiana and don't run East, much less to Maine, so we'll broker a load out to Boston and then deadhead them (no revenue) to Columbia Falls, Maine to pick up the wreaths. They're proud to be involved, all the company employees like it, and hopefully Bestway will stay involved for a long time to come."
Shepard goes on to explain why he believes so strongly in his volunteer commitment and his eagerness to engage more people to sponsor remembrance wreaths and get involved in their communities.
"It makes these drivers feel good about themselves, it makes them feel good about their companies, it makes them feel good about their country and being Americans. They're so proud and when you've got all those things working in the same direction that's a win-win for everybody. I don't know if that was the original vision of Morrill and Karen's [Worcester], but I promise you that's real and it touches a lot of lives. Good stuff."
Thank you, Shepard Dunn and Bestway Express for your patriotism and tireless support of Wreaths Across America.
You can hear more from Shepard and other patriots in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio weekdays at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern.
*Editor's note: At the time of Shepard's interview for this story he was the CEO of Bestway Express. Shepard's starting a new position with CFI in Joplin, Missouri.
Guided by an infrangible faith when the supply of lifejackets ran out they gave up their own to save the lives of others.
"I went up to that hill and looked at all of those graves of my colleagues who have gone before me.
Volunteers planning to assist in removing wreaths are asked to attend a short briefing at the McClellan Gate at 8:30 a.m. and to follow these guidelines.
As witnessed through this video, the volunteer commitment of patriotic citizens is a year-round effort that culminates in a remarkable day of unity, friendship, and healing.
Some give the ultimate sacrifice of a loved one and are often left in sorrow to wonder if other citizens remember or appreciate what they gave up for liberty and justice for all.
Wreaths Across America knows some of the finest musicians out there are members of our military performance groups. Each month, we like to feature the musical works of those talented individuals.
Each live, balsam remembrance wreath is a gift of respect and appreciation, donated by a private citizen or organization and placed on the graves by volunteers as a small gesture of gratitude for the freedoms Americans enjoy.
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.