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.
A music educator by trade and trucker by heritage, Sherri Garner Brumbaugh is the President and CEO of Garner Trucking in Findlay, Ohio.
Her parents, Vernon and Regina Garner represented the true American dream. They were a young entrepreneurial couple creating a business to share with future generations of their family. Garner Trucking started in 1960 with one truck and has grown to over one hundred trucks and four hundred trailers today.
Sherri's love of music resulted in her achieving a BA in music education from Ohio State University. She worked as a band director for five years, but the family business needed her support.
"I think of my fleet as one big marching band," Sherri chuckled. She developed those leadership skills as she learned the ins and outs of the company over the years.
"I started as a part-time secretary in our accounting department, moved into operations and managed our brokerage and expedite business. Then there was a need to update our computers so I facilitated our IT expansion and upgrade and that lead to me working with our marketing and sales department."
In 2007, Sherri lost her father to cancer and her mother appointed her as President of Garner Trucking in the fall of 2008.
Sherri says they were introduced to Wreaths Across America when the Truckload Carriers Association put out a call to action during an annual meeting.
"I volunteered our company to take a truckload from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery about four years ago," Sherri explains. "We've done that truck, and this last year we added another load and brought that back to our community in Findlay. It was my son Jon's Eagle Scout project to bring wreaths to the local cemetery here, and he coordinated the effort on National Wreaths Across America Day. I've also served on the TCA Communications and Image Committee which is responsible for the fundraising Gala for Wreaths Across America. In 2014, I participated in the annual wreath escort from Maine to Arlington, and that was a moving experience for me. I guess you can say I've been very involved with Wreaths Across America."
Approximately ten to twelve percent of Sherri's fleet drivers are veterans and there are veterans and reservists working in the office. Military service touches her personal life as well.
"My uncles served in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. I had a cousin who was a Marine who gave the ultimate sacrifice of his life, and my husband's father served in the Navy."
Sherri says to remember the fallen and honor those who serve is important, but because of her education background, the teach objective of the Wreaths Across America mission resonates with her the most.
"We need to reach out to young people, so they understand the freedoms they enjoy and what those sacrifices are to allow them to have those freedoms."
Garner says the employees of Garner Trucking, Inc. take great pride in their involvement with Wreaths Across America.
"It's not about hauling a load for profit. It's about giving back to our community, our country, and showing appreciation for our veterans."
Sherri says Maple Grove Cemetery in Findlay, Ohio has a lot of work to do to cover several thousand veterans' graves, and her son continues his volunteer efforts to collect more wreath sponsorships to honor those fallen heroes.
Sherri encourages other truckload carriers in the country to step up and get involved in the mission to remember, honor and teach.
Thank you, Sherri Garner and Garner Trucking, Inc. for your patriotism and tireless support of Wreaths Across America. You can hear more from Sherri 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.