Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents UPS
The Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach would not be possible without the transportation industry. Veterans’ wreaths move by planes, trains, and livestock trailers, but trucks and their professional drivers transport the lion’s share of America’s respect. For the past few years, Wreaths Across America has highlighted their steadfast commitment in the “Trucking Tributes” feature online and on Wreaths Across America Radio.
Many of these drivers are veterans, and they tell us the truckload of fresh, balsam fir wreaths is the most precious cargo they transport in their careers.
In 2019, UPS joined the Wreaths Across America family and held a place of distinction in the annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery. UPS won the winning bid to transport the Honor Trailer, and Mark Petrarca, UPS Driver Trainer was selected to haul the trailer. Mark served 25 years in the United States Coast Guard, both active duty and reserves. His brother is an officer in the Coast Guard, and his son-in-law is an officer in the Navy. “When my wife Priscilla and I knew we were making the trip, we started to research as much as we could find on Wreaths Across America,” Mark shared. “We quickly discovered though that there was no amount of research that could have prepared us for the incredible greeting we received in Maine, or the experience of the escort. It was emotional and such an honor.”
Ray Thompson is the Manager of Veterans Affairs for U.S. Domestic Small Package at UPS as well as a military veteran. Ray served 27 years in the United States Army and believes the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach is a perfect fit with the UPS company culture. “We’re a 113-year old global company with close to half a million employees, and many of them are veterans,” Ray said. “As a retired Army officer, when I transferred my military skillset over to UPS, I could not have been more proud to be placed in a position with a company that is so supportive of veterans.” One of the programs UPS provides to support veterans with employment upon transition back into civilian life is the UPS Veterans Fellowship Program, which is sanctioned by the Department of Defense and administered by Hiring Our Heroes. The UPS Veterans Fellowship program allows UPS to provide a 12-week internship to active duty military members preparing to transition. “If we have a position they’ve trained for in the military, like human resources, for example, and we have a human resource opening, we bring them in through the internship. If all goes well, they’ll transition directly into that full-time position.”
Ray shared what an important and humbling experience it is to be involved with Wreaths Across America. “It’s a simple, moving gesture that’s so powerful,” Ray expressed. “The commitment of it all, and to see how it impacts people and moves them to tears is overwhelming.”
Overwhelming was also a descriptor shared by Mark. “It’s hard to say what our favorite experience was because there were so many, but I’d have to say it was when we entered Arlington Saturday morning. It was so calm and peaceful.”
Thank you, Mark, Ray, and the entire team at UPS for supporting the Wreaths Across America mission. You can hear the full interview with Mark and Ray in Trucking Tributes, heard exclusively on Wreaths Across America Radio on Tuesdays at 11:00 AM, and again at 4:00 PM EDT.
If you’d like more information on our open lanes, visit: trucking.wreathsacrossamerica.org