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.
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."