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.
Whether it's one truckload or twenty, our professional drivers and their companies move our mission to remember, honor, and teach by transporting our nation's respect in the form of fresh balsam remembrance wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery, and to over twelve hundred other participating locations across the country in December.
Their commitment comes from an ingrained respect and gratitude for the service and sacrifice of members of the United States armed forces. Our volunteers and supporters share the knowledge we would not be a free and sovereign nation if it were not for our veterans.
Kevin Brewer is a veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps attaining the rank of Lance Corporal before his discharge in 1987. His father, who is now laid to rest at the VA National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida also served in the Marines and later in the Air Force. Kevin drives for VA National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida also served in the Marines and later in the Air Force. Kevin drives for Armellini Express Lines, Inc.
"I've only been involved with Wreaths Across America the last two years, but I've seen so many people put in a lot of effort," Kevin explains. "I think that's impressive that so many people are willing to take the time and do all the work they do to make sure our veterans are honored."
Armellini's Vice President of Operations, Jeff Jackson explains the company got involved in 2015 after hearing of Pottle's Transportations' experiences by way of an insurance group with whom they both do business.
"Our company is very civic minded and veteran's causes are really important to our owner Dave Armelini," states Jeff. "Once he heard about Wreaths Across America we jumped on board."
The Wreaths Across America effort within Armellini Express is company wide, and as the General Manager of Armelleni Onsite Storage, Stephanie Markisello explains it's personal.
"Not only is our driver Kevin a veteran but my husband is also a Marine, and my father-in-law is a Patriot Guard Rider, and he got involved with us when he moved to Florida, so there's a complete connection with those of us who are involved."
Stephanie says the Walmart Distribution Center in Fort Pierce is the "hub" for their National Wreaths Across America Day ceremonies that include a motorcycle and police escort into the cemetery.
"I plan to get to the cemetery this year, but for the past two years I've gone up to meet Kevin at Walmart to take pictures and videos. They host a social breakfast in the morning and serve as a staging area for the escort," Stephanie describes. "They actually travel down the turnpike from Fort Pierce, and our office is right off the exit so I gather as many employees as I can in golf carts and we cheer them on as they head to the cemetery."
Kevin says driving Armellini's load of wreaths in the escort to VA National Cemetery in Lake Worth along with the Walmart trucks is a meaningful experience for him emotionally because of honoring veterans, but he says there's also a more physical kind of excitement as a professional driver.
"It's kind of fun being the center of attention for a while, I mean who doesn't like that, but when you're escorted on the highway by law enforcement and Patriot Guard Riders, and you don't have to stop for any of the lights there's nothing like it. That's really a cool experience to watch them on the road ahead of you clearing the way, and we roll right through the red lights," Kevin chuckles.
Kevin also appreciates the value of the message the Wreaths Across America mission spreads to others.
"I think that younger people who see how we're honoring our veterans will think about stepping up and serving in the military to help protect our nation from all enemies."
Thank you, Jeff, Stephanie, Kevin and all of the Armellini Express team for your patriotism and tireless support of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.
You can hear more from the Armellini Express team our other patriots in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern Monday-Friday.
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."
"We're just Moms who serve through the organization to make sure that our children's names and lives are not forgotten."
From our standpoint, it's a relatively small thing to do, and we're proud to be a part of the mission."
"With NFI managing the logistics, the sky is the limit. They will help make the entire operation more efficient,” said Debbie Sparks, Director Corporate Development and Community Relations, Wreaths Across America.
Luann started her volunteer efforts with Wreaths Across America in 2015 after hearing about it from a friend who was participating with her DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) group. She's working to sponsor wreaths to cover all of the known heroes laid to rest at Oaklawn.
"I always choose our drivers who are military veterans for these loads and they are proud and honored to have the opportunity to recognize our fallen heroes and their families."
In referencing the Wreaths Across America Stem to Stone Remembrance Tree program Roger spoke to the value and necessity of "planting seeds of patriotism" in younger generations.
Monica explains Maverick has a tremendous amount of pride hauling America's respect and not only do they assign the wreath loads to their drivers who are veterans but those drivers are some of the industry's best.