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.
Vince Strupp is a proud man; proud of he and his wife's military service, of what they have accomplished as a team over the years in the trucking industry, and raising a family. Vince is a one-truck owner-operator who is currently leased out to Spoerl Trucking in Wisconsin. Along with raising four children and eleven grandkids with Judy, Vince has seen every part of our great nation, and most of Canada.
Vince and Judy both entered military service back in the 1960's during the Vietnam War. He ended his military career with the U.S. Army with the rank of Specialist E 5 and Judy served for twenty-three years in the Air Force before retiring with the rank of E 7 Master Sergeant. Both are active members of their American Legion Post #483 where Vince serves as a member of their Honor Guard.
When Vince heard a radio promo about Wreaths Across America, he decided to reach out to the Truckload Carriers Association to get more information, and he got involved the following year.
"That first year I got to Columbia Falls, Maine a little ahead of schedule and my load wasn't going to be ready for a couple of days so Rob asked if I'd be interested in taking a load of wreaths to a suburb of Chicago," Vince recalls. "When my wife and I got back to pick up our load we found out we'd been assigned to take the second one to Arlington National Cemetery. We couldn't believe it! It was like a dream come true to be hauling such honorable freight."
As luck would have it on their trip, Vince and Judy connected with the annual wreath escort convoy on it's trip to Arlington, so they were able to witness first hand the patriotic greetings along the roadways. On National Wreaths Across America Day, they found themselves overwhelmed again.
"The people came out the day before just to watch the trucking coming into stage," Vince shared. "The next day it was an unbelievable site to see thousands of people coming out volunteering to lay a wreath on every grave. Words can't describe what that was like to see that cemetery transform in a couple of hours."
Donating fuel, maintenance and time as an owner-operator to transport wreaths can be a big personal sacrifice, but Vince and Judy have done just that for several years now because they believe it's important to teach younger generations the meaning of freedom. The American Legion has supported their effort taking up collections to offset their fuel costs.
"As the saying goes we all gave some, but some gave all, and that resonates with me all the time," explains Vince. "This is our way of giving back and paying tribute to the fallen because those people are the heroes. It's so very important that we never forget and that we teach our youth how we have the freedoms we have. It came from these men and women."
Vince says participating annually with Wreaths Across America never gets old. He and his wife have made new friends, and he's appreciative of Spoerl Trucking, Inc. for sponsoring the trailer he uses to haul America's respect.
"We look forward to it every year and we've met a lot of great people over the years, and they've become like family. We keep in touch with one another throughout the year."
Thank you, Vince and Judy Strupp and V & J Strupp Trucking LLC for your tireless patriotism and support of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.
You can hear more from Vince about his father's service in World War II and from our other patriots in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio 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."