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.
Like Wreaths Across America, one man's entrepreneurial spirit back in 1934 laid the foundation for Buchheit Logistics in Missouri.
"My grandfather started off with a truck hauling anything he could get his hands on initially and then a little saloon came up for sale," explains Jeff Buchheit, Vice President of Transportation and Logistics for Buchheit. "He got a loan from his father-in-law, made a down payment on the saloon and opened up an old-fashioned general store. At night he'd find what his customers needed in St Louis and would haul that back to the store."
Today, the third generation family operation has expanded into three divisions; Retail, Agriculture and Transportation and Logistics with over a million square feet of warehouse space in Missouri and eastern Pennsylvania.
Jeff says he had heard about Wreaths Across America but it wasn't until he attended a TCA conference a few years ago that he decided to get involved with the mission to remember, honor and teach.
"In 2015 we hauled one load, and just last year we signed up for two," explains Jeff. "Each year we decorate a trailer and the folks at the Bloomfield Missouri Veterans Cemetery like to use the trailer as a backdrop for their ceremonies. In total, we deliver to five different cemeteries in Missouri and Illinois."
The military service backgrounds within Buchheit are impressive.
"Our President Ron Gjerstad is an Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam era, our safety director Brad Redden is a twenty-five year plus Navy veteran with multplie deployments around the world, and I served in the National Guard for seventeen years."
Jeff personally understands the sacrifices made by military families.
"My oldest child was born during my deployment to Iraq in 2004," Jeff recalls. "The tough part was not leaving and going over there to do my job. Probably the hardest part of my service was reintegrating and getting back to life as normal when I came home."
Jeff says a lot of drivers who work for Buchheit think it would be exciting to participate in the Wreaths Across America effort. They're right! However, hauling a truckload of America's respect is a privileged duty reserved for certain employees.
"We'll only choose from our group of drivers who have served in the military and that represents about twenty-five percent of our drivers."
Buchheit driver and U.S. Army veteran Thomas Tinnin made the first transport in 2015 and in 2016 Jim Griffaw, Howard Hall, and John White drove as you'll see in these videos that beautifully demonstrate the spirit of patriotism and pride exhibited by Jeff's company and community.
As so many of our volunteers tell us, they believe strongly in the Wreaths Across America mission objective to teach younger generations the value of freedom and the price paid for that freedom. Jeff echoes that sentiment and has involved his three children in the cemetery ceremonies.
"They enjoy it and look forward to it every year. When December rolls around, they ask if we're going to do the wreaths on the headstones again this year."
Thank you, Jeff and Buchheit Logistics for your patriotism and tireless support of Wreaths Across America. You can hear more from Jeff in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio weekdays at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern.
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.
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.