Professional drivers and trucking companies give so much to the nation. Without them, the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach would be nearly impossible. Veterans’ wreaths move by planes, trains, ships, and livestock trailers, but trucks and their professional drivers transport the lion’s share of America's respect. In 2022, to be specific, 609 truckloads of wreaths were delivered, representing 439 different carriers.
In November and December, one of the busiest periods of the year for the transportation sector, the Wreaths Across America mission brings drivers together in an effort of unparalleled unity. With a positive, “can-do” work ethic, these professionals make it possible for Americans to honor millions of veterans laid to rest at home and overseas. In 2023, transportation logistics are immense, with over 4,000 participating locations and Arlington National Cemetery.
Many of these drivers are military veterans and say the truckload of fresh balsam-fir wreaths is the most precious cargo they transport in their careers. Wreaths Across America shares their stories and what motivates them to serve and succeed in the “Trucking Tributes” feature online and on Wreaths Across America Radio.
Since 2013, Don Queeney has supported the mission to remember, honor, and teach with great passion and commitment. “I was running our family business, which focuses on the moving and storage side of the trucking industry, when another driver, Steven Meyer, told me about Wreaths Across America and thought it would be right up my alley,” Don explains of his beginnings with the organization. “I got right on it, and ironically, my first load was for Arlington National Cemetery, and it blew me away when I delivered those wreaths that year. I was so amazed by the process that I needed to know more.” Don worked as a volunteer with the Mobile Education Exhibit and was eventually hired on as the Director of Transportation. Don served in that capacity for four years before stepping down last year to “retire.”
So much for that retirement! While Don has managed to squeeze in some family and fishing time, he’s back at it with Wreaths Across America, helping the transportation department with cross-dock operations. “It’s been growing every year, and getting a transportation company to haul wreaths clear across the country can be tough, so cross-dock operations were established. In the early days, one of the first was operated in Mississippi by Total Transportation, McGuire Moving and Storage established a set-up in St. Louis. When the mission really picked up out west, we connected with J.B. Hunt Transport, and they offered intermodal rail service to the West Coast. That’s when we started cross-docks in Phoenix, Arizona, San Diego, California, and Fife, Washington, operated by Golden Services. Ironically, many of them are in the moving and storage business; Dirck’s Moving and Logistics, Ace World Wide Relocation, and New World Van Lines is one of our newest. Phoenix has grown, and they started with one, but this year, there will be three warehouses involved.”
Don explains some of the veterans’ wreaths destined for the West Coast have already started to leave Maine. “They’re running on quite a tight schedule at these cross-docks,” Don explains. “Once the wreaths leave Columbia Falls, Maine, there’s quite a dance involved to get them to the cross-docks and reloaded onto trailers and cargo containers.”
If anyone can bring vast knowledge and problem-solving experience to the cross-dock operations, it’s Don Queeney. “I’ll be out there in Phoenix representing Wreaths Across America, and hopefully, I’ll be the guy putting out fires before they even begin. I’ll do whatever is needed, from driving a forklift to moving trailers to cheerleading.”
Thank you, Don Queeney and all of our cross-dock operations teams across the country, for your continued support of the mission. You can hear Don’s full interview on Trucking Tributes, listened to exclusively on Wreaths Across America Radio every Truckin’ Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern.