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.
John Elliott is not the first person in the trucking industry to tell Wreaths Across America of some similarities he sees between the life of professional drivers and that of those in the military.
John would know, following his twelve years of service in the U.S. Army & Army Reserves as an Infantry drill sergeant and as the third generation in his family to be involved in trucking.
"Our drivers are away from their families providing a service for this country, keeping America moving," John explains. "A high percentage of our drivers are former military, and I think it ties our industry well to Wreaths Across America's mission. I know our drivers take a great sense of pride and will jockey for position to be able to be one of those hauling wreaths to one of the cemeteries we support."
John is the CEO of Load One LLC in Michigan, and he says they've been participating in hauling America's respect for at least eight years.
"As soon as we saw Wreaths Across America we jumped in pretty quick, and the first year we did two truck loads, and now we're up to seven to ten trucks depending on the need. We're an expedite company so we can help with emergency recoveries too so if a truck breaks down we can go in and retrieve the load. We get to deliver some of the ceremonial wreaths that we can break off and deliver to different locations where some of the big semis can't get to easily like the Statue of Liberty or Pentagon."
It's not just the drivers at Load One LLC who participate in honoring our military veterans on National Wreaths Across America Day. The company also charters buses to transport other company employees to the national cemetery in Michigan National Cemetery where they volunteer to lay wreaths on the headstones of our fallen heroes.
John believes being a part of the Wreaths Across America event in December is a life-changing experience that sends a poignant message of understanding and support to military families and those currently serving.
"To see this display of unity and patriotism in the country, and to know that they're not forgotten and their families are not forgotten always does a lot to bolster the spirits of our troops still in harm's way," John explains.
"There are things we can do every day to get involved with organizations like Wreaths Across America and others that work to support the military and their families. As a country, I think we should keep in mind the military is undersized and underfunded which means the troop rotations and deployments are more common and longer in most instances. That's tough on the families and stretches the fabric of the military."
John, as did many of the other drivers and companies showcased in our "Trucking Tributes" series, says when he first got involved he was stunned to learn of the scope and size of the transportation logistics involved in delivering millions of sponsored veterans remembrance wreaths across the country and to locations overseas.
"It's massive," John exclaims. "When you see thousands of volunteers flood through the gates to lay wreaths, it does help restore your faith in America and that our country has not lost its core value of appreciating the sacrifice of our soldiers and veterans and saluting them while teaching the next generation how important it is to remember."
John continues to enthusiastically support the growth and development of Wreaths Across America as we work to remember and honor more of our fallen heroes across the nation. He challenges other trucking companies to get involved in hauling America's respect.
Thank you, John Elliott and Load One LLC for your patriotism and tireless support of Wreaths Across America. You can hear more from John in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio weekdays at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern.
As the only fully-integrated recycling provider in Central Texas, TDS joined in the effort to remember, honor and teach by donating their services.
All of the 30 Medal of Honor Recipients in attendance during the four days of events were glad to have a chance to meet Morrill and Karen.
The goal of the S.W.A.T. training is to create a core "support group" for location and fundraising volunteers with more experienced leaders joining the ranks every year.
"If you're an American, you're proud to do it. I know it's probably one of the best things I've done every year."
Mission Matters with Karen Worcester is a new program heard only on Wednesdays on Wreaths Across America Radio. Here's the schedule of the shows coming up and a link to the station.
Anyone who really knows me knows that I am often a walking Wreaths Across America billboard. They will normally see me sporting a WAA-branded sweatshirt or t-shirt, my blue and green WAA wristband and my ever-present WAA baseball cap. I’m proud of my connection with WAA and love to promote what we do and why we do it.
That being said, I want to relate a recent encounter I had while standing in line at our local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office the other day.
Air Force Veteran*, Wayne Merritt, currently manages the Veterans Transportation Program based out of Wreaths Across America Headquarters in Maine. Monday thru Friday, Wayne travels to area towns in the Downeast region to pick up veterans and bring them to their doctors’ appointments. This is just one of the many free programs Wreaths Across America offers to veterans and their families.
Military children worry about their parent’s safety very day. These children face many challenges, frequent moves and lengthy separation due to trainings and deployments. They take on more responsibilities and worry about their parent every day.
"I really don't see it stopping, and we want people to tell us where they see it. Take pictures and videos when you check it out and share them with us on social media."
Debbie says she and the transportation team are excited about new and more efficient systems that will be in place for 2018 and beyond.
To come up with an accurate wreath count for sponsorships, great effort was taken to assure no one was forgotten.
As we approached, Morrill and I began to realize that here laid the body of a very important veteran that we had apparently overlooked for the past 26 years in our annual wreath placement.
The many stops along the way at schools, veterans organizations, police and fire stations were also overflowing with love and good wishes.
I want my daughter to grow up understanding what true heroes are and the sacrifices that have been made for us to live in a free country.
Complete strangers just moments before, together, Denny and Ella read the name on her grandfather's headstone and talked some about him while laying his wreath.
"When she explained to us what Wreaths Across America is and does, it was a no-brainer for me that we would get involved."
On behalf of her father Rod, Cindi shared her grandfather's words with the audience during the memorial service. You can hear her presentation and see other highlights from the service in this video.
These two quiet and humble individuals are a team dedicated to giving back to their nation. They educate others by sharing their experiences and lessons of love and sacrifice not just from the war but the other "battlefields of life."
To better serve our volunteers in 2018 and beyond, we're reorganizing and providing more tools to support their inspiring efforts.
"I witnessed a few of the boys laying an "in honor of" wreath. They did it with reverence."
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.