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.
No one could have ever convinced Wreaths Across America’s founder Morrill Worcester that his thoughtful gesture back in 1992 of donating one truckload of five-thousand wreaths to be placed on the headstones of our fallen over the holidays in Arlington National Cemetery would become a unifying symbol of honor and respect for our nation’s military.
Today with over 1,200 participating locations in addition to Arlington, over two hundred trucking companies and their industry associations are responsible for hauling hundreds of loads of hand-made balsam fir remembrance wreaths out of Washington County, Maine to points throughout the nation.
Stan Hampton, Vice President of Driver Personnel for J.B. Hunt, says he and his boss, Senior VP of Safety and Driver Personnel Greer Woodruff, were invited to a TCA Fundraising Gala for Wreaths Across America three or four years ago.
“We had done a little research and had heard of Wreaths Across America before we went to D.C.,” Stan recalls. “We didn’t understand the scope of the effort though until we attended the event. The energy and enthusiasm for WAA was mind-blowing and we left with great contacts and started to formulate a proposal right away for the executive team to consider getting involved with the mission.”
Stan says from the very beginning there was a great deal of employee engagement at J.B. Hunt.
“That first year we hauled one load from Maine to Arkansas using drivers who were veterans on each leg of the journey,” Stan explains. “We had seven stops in between and had key exchange ceremonies at service centers. As we went along, we collected and shared their stories, and by the time we reached the corporate office, we had quite a following. There was a ceremony in our employee circle with cheers and American flags.”
Stan says several hundred J.B. Hunt employees participate in wreath-laying ceremonies at the cemetery as well.
“The ground swell and emotion of our employees just validated what we had seen in D.C., and we knew it was going to be a cultural thing for J.B. Hunt. “
Since J.B. Hunt’s first year of involvement, they have increased their support from one to eight truckloads of wreaths and have partnered with Walmart to honor the fallen in Arkansas
“We’ve always been strong in veteran recruiting and honoring our veterans. We don’t have any veterans at the executive level at J.B. Hunt, but the involvement from the top down has been strong. The trucking industry is the backbone of America. Things do not just appear on the shelves without transportation and logistics. Being able to do what we do in this country is only delivered through the sacrifice our service members, veterans, and their families make.”
Stan has not served in the military but his brother Darrell has, and he’s also proud of his Grandfather Toy Sams Sands who served in the Navy for twenty years before settling into a trucking career.
Stan says J.B. Hunt looks forward to its continued support of the Wreaths Across America mission and he’ll always be a huge fan working to encourage other volunteers to step up to be sure no hometown hero is ever forgotten.
“Whether it's donating a wreath somewhere and covering the cost for that, or getting involved in laying wreaths at your local cemetery, or driving that load you may never know whose life your impacting by that compassionate gesture during Wreaths Across America Day,” Stan explains of the healing nature of the remembrance wreath laid in honor during the holidays. “When you take the time to get to know and support the Gold Star and Blue Star families in your workplace and community you begin to understand the level of their sacrifice. Once you understand that sacrifice, you understand Wreaths Across America and the mission to remember, honor and teach.”
Thank you, Stan and J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. for your patriotism and tireless support of Wreaths Across America. You can hear more from Stan 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.
"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."
Johnny Vet: Freedom Isn’t Free is a dynamic and inspirational musical journey of the men and women who have fought the nation’s wars and how those same men and women, as veterans, have helped to shape the nation and its destiny.
"History can be studied in many ways, and it's important to do so for a contextual understanding of the journey taken by an individual, organization, or nation."
"It's heart-wrenching to see that and participate in that, Rick shares. "To see all the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles waiting there to have a wreath to place on their family member's headstone, there are just no words for it, none."