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.
Over the past few months, Wreaths Across America's "Trucking Tributes" has introduced you to the people, companies and trade associations that support the massive transportation logistics behind the organization's mission to remember our fallen, honor those who serve and teach younger generations the value of freedom.
In each of their stories, the motivation to step up and support the nationwide wreath-laying effort each December during the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington and National Wreaths Across America Day comes from a sense of duty, patriotism, and pride even in the face of adversity, personal pain, and sacrifice.
Many of our participating drivers are veterans and some like Scott Harris of Harris and Sons Trucking out of Patten, Maine, are Gold Star parents whose children have given their lives in service to our nation.
Scott's story of Dustin's courage and sacrifice brings back recollections of World War II when young American men in their late teens and early twenties were compelled to enlist after our nation was attacked by the Japanese and drawn into the war. It was the terrorist attack on our country on September 11, 2001, that stirred Dustin's desire to serve.
Dustin wanted to enlist immediately after graduating from high school, but his frightened parents tried to dissuade him. "We probably shouldn't have, but, my wife Lorna and I tried to talk him out of it," shares Scott. "He did what we asked him to and went on to Eastern Maine Community College for training as a diesel mechanic, but as soon as he was done, he went and signed up."
"At that time we knew it was inevitable he'd be deployed," Scott explains. "He was just a few days shy of being promoted to Sergeant when his Humvee hit an IED (improvised explosive device) in Iraq."
Scott says their involvement with Wreaths Across America and Lorna's involvement with American Gold Star Mothers has been a tremendous help in dealing with their grief over the loss of Dustin.
"Anyone who's lost a child knows it's a devastating change in your life," Scott explains. "After a month of sitting around the house going back to work was my therapy. After a couple of years, we started doing better, and Lorna found her involvement in giving back to the living veterans and helping to honor all the others who have died for our freedom has been very helpful."
Six years ago Scott said, "I'm ready. I want to get involved and give my services to Wreaths Across America." As a single truck owner/operator, it's not a small donation of time and expense for him to haul a load of fresh balsam remembrance wreaths but he's had impressive support along the way.
North State Transportation out of Caribou, Maine provides him with the time he needs off for the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington every year and in 2015 Chevy teamed up with Pottle's Transportation to provide Scott with a special trailer wrap honoring Dustin.
Scott expresses how soothing and healing his experiences with Wreaths Across America have been as do other Gold Star professional drivers who pay tribute to their sons by hauling America's respect.
Thank you, Scott & Lorna Harris for your sacrifice and tireless support of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.
You can hear more from Scott and our other patriots in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern.
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.
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."