Wreaths Across America's "Trucking Tributes" Presents Pinellas Technical College
Wreaths Across America emphasizes the fresh, balsam fir veteran’s wreath is a symbol of honor, respect, and gratitude. It’s also a catalyst for impactful connections and healing. In 2018, the veterans’ wreaths not only connected communities with their fallen heroes, but they also helped a brother and sister learn more about each other.
That story is shared with us by Laura Kingsland, Commercial Motor Vehicle instructor for Pinellas Technical College in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“When we got to Florida, we were escorted to the cemetery by the Patriot Guard Motorcycle group, and my brother joined on his motorcycle too,” Laura explained. “You see, after 60 years we discovered through Ancestry we were brother and sister, and when he found out I was involved with Wreaths Across America, he wanted to be a part of it too.”
Laura and her colleague, Mary O’Keefe, another Commercial Motor Vehicle instructor with Pinellas, pitched Wreaths Across America to the college administrators and convinced them it would be a worthwhile cause with which to be involved.
“There’s no better way to honor our veterans and the price they have paid for this country than to do what Wreaths Across America is doing,” Laura explains. “Until you see it you don’t understand. I had a dear friend pass away recently and he was a veteran. We went to Bath, New York just after it had snowed and every one of the veterans’ graves had a wreath on it. It was just beautiful. That’s what motivated me to push a little harder with our administration so we could do more to help create this for our veterans’ families.”
Mary describes their visit to Maine and the reception they received hauling the Pinellas trailer.
“When we got up into the northern states people were honking their horns and waving at us just because of our trailer wrap with Wreaths Across America on it. When we got closer to Columbia Falls, Maine, communities just opened up their arms for all of these truck drivers and their trucks, it was amazing.”
The Pinellas trailer was loaded in less than 45 minutes with citizen-sponsored veterans wreaths bound for participating cemeteries in Ormand Beach and St. Petersburg, Florida.
Women represent a tiny percentage of the workers in the trucking transportation field. Little did Laura and Mary know, they made quite an impression when they participated in a portion of the Annual Wreath Escort from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery. As they rolled into the first welcome stop in Ellsworth, Maine, a young Girl Scout in the crowd yelled, “Mom look it’s a lady driving that truck!”
In participating, Laura found herself connected to two new families in 2018. Her new-found brother and Wreaths Across America.
Thank you, Laura, Mary and all the folks at Pinellas Technical College for your patriotism and support for the mission to remember, honor and teach. You can hear more with Laura and Mary on Trucking Tributes, Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM on Wreaths Across America Radio