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.
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.
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.