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.
Wreaths Across America is growing as more patriotic citizens step forward to sponsor veterans' remembrance wreaths to remember our nation's fallen heroes, and that means more fresh-balsam wreaths are transported from Maine to destinations across the nation and overseas. In 2016, 1.1 million wreaths were distributed for National Wreaths Across America Day.
As the organization increases its capacity to honor more veterans and their families, "Trucking Tributes" is pleased to announce Wreaths Across America's new partnership with NFI, a leading supply chain solutions provider out of Cherry Hill, NJ.
"This has grown so rapidly and it's an opportunity for us to step in and help continue to propel that growth and plan for the future," explains David Broering, NFI's Senior Vice President of Integrated Solutions. "The TCA has done such an amazing job, and Debbie Sparks by proxy, of getting it here, but, that old phrase of what's gotten you here won't get you any further sort of scenario. I think TCA deserves a lot of credit for recognizing that it was time to really move to a different level of management for the way this will be handled long term."
"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. "This relationship is going to enable us to grow exponentially to meet [our founder] Morrill Worcester’s vision to one day place a wreath on every veteran’s headstone."
NFI will be managing carrier onboarding, load confirmations, distributing final bills of lading, tracking deliveries, and managing deliveries to the ceremony locations.
NFI is a family owned and operated company established in 1932. Brothers Sid, Ike, and Jeff Brown are the leaders of the organization and according to David that culture of family and being able to get things done was what attracted him to the company back in 2012.
"I found NFI's commitment to a high degree of customer service and execution on behalf of its clients impressive."
In addition to the 200+ North American warehouses and transportation locations, David says NFI has nine brokerage and transportation management offices; six in the United States, three in Canada. "We have a fairly young and diverse demographic of employees who really care about what they're doing every day," David explains. "We have a purpose-driven culture. Our people want to give back and feel like what they're doing is meaningful for other people. When this opportunity with Wreaths Across America came up it was the opportunity for us to combine what we're really good at which is logistics with something we really care about which is giving back."
The commitment to the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach is personal for David as well as other NFI employees.
"My grandfather, William Gast passed three years ago was a tail gunner in World War II," shares David. "He was shot down and taken prisoner by the Germans for eight months. He lived into his nineties and he was just such an amazing person. He was always so thankful for the little things that got him through that experience."
David says upon hearing of this new support role NFI would play leading up to National Wreaths Across America Day, some of the employees who are veterans came forward to ask how they can help.
NFI’s management of the transportation will be completed with the support of FourKites, a supply chain visibility platform that tracks shipments, which helps NFI proactively manages exceptions. This will give volunteers and communities precise information on the arrival of the wreaths.
"It's a different approach than it has been in the past," David explains. "While we probably won't be successful in getting every single truck transparently tracked from pickup to delivery our goal is to have a good deal of those done in a way that everyone is aware of when the wreaths will be arriving so the ceremonies can go off without a hitch and everyone can be recognized as planned."
David says he'll be supporting three other NFI employees with the Wreaths Across America project.
"Rich Joseph is the overall manager who is the Branch Manager of the New Jersey operations. Sara Graham is the Operations Manager and she'll be working with Renata Leo who will be the day-to-day contact and main focal point of operations for NFI. They're the key to this going off without a hitch."
David says he'll be working on reaching out to some of NFI's partners who are not part of the Wreaths Across America effort as of yet in order to expand the capacity for wreath sponsorships.
Thank you, David and the entire NFI team for your patriotism and tireless support of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.
You can hear more from David and 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.