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, with over 3,700 participating locations, in addition to Arlington National Cemetery, transportation logistics are immense.
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.
“I can’t do it again this year, but I’ve already told S & S to put my name in the hat for next year and the following year until I retire!” That enthusiasm comes from a professional driver who participated as a member of the Wreaths Across America Honor Fleet for one season, but his experience with the mission to remember, honor, and teach proved to be one he’ll never forget.
Marc Merren is a U.S. Army veteran driving for S and S Transport out of Grand Forks, North Dakota. S & S has been participating as a member of the honor fleet for some time. Each year, they have a drawing to determine which driver will haul “America’s respect” supporting volunteers on the ground with deliveries of hand-made, fresh balsam fir veterans’ wreaths. “I’d heard about Wreaths Across America for years and wanted to get involved,” Marc expressed. “When I got to S & S Transport, they were clearly into veterans. They have a wall where all of the veterans have their pictures up and get recognition that way. One of the founders was a veteran, and they’re proud of their veterans. They wrap trucks every year, and my name got pulled to do it. I’ve had a lot of good loads, but this was the best load, and I had the time of my life; it was an experience. I have the decal on the side of my truck, and I tell other drivers to take their time to meet everyone and see everything. Wreaths Across America does that first mile so well. Go out and see the trees and the dog tags, take the museum tour, eat some great food, and take it all in. The welcome drivers receive is just incredible.” Marc was excited when Diane Thompson gave him a “class” on making a handmade veteran’s wreath. “It’s really incredible inside the driver’s check-in. Great food, washers and dryers, showers, and then there’s this lady who comes up and says, ‘Hey, you want to learn how to make a wreath?’”
Marc made his wreath, and while he was being loaded, he was able to get a peek into the wreath-making factory. However, he'll have to return to Maine at some point with members of his old unit and his brother to place some dog tags. Marc’s experience as a military child and a veteran himself has given him a deep appreciation for the Wreaths Across America mission. His father and grandfathers served, as did his uncles and his brother. They have a rich legacy of service to the nation. “I believe things change generationally. We like to say that the World War II generation was the greatest generation, and then America changed with the next generation. They didn’t welcome home Vietnam veterans like they did the previous. It’s up to us who who have been there and seen these things to make sure that young people and people who have forgotten realize that these are the people that give you whatever you have. You’ve got the right to say what you want. You’ve got the right to live where you want. You’ve got the right play on ticky tok all day long, and these rights are all purchased with the sacrifice of men, women and families across this country who have served. If we don’t remind people this or teach them, then who else will?”
Marc was particularly impressed when he arrived at his participating locations with the wreaths to witness the community building and volunteerism that drives the organization’s mission. “Everywhere we went, we had a lot of volunteers show up, and they would unload the truck and put the wreaths into storage until they needed to be placed, and when that was done, we had more socializing, and I tried to get pictures of these people with my truck and trailer.”
Marc’s final words of encouragement for anyone considering getting involved as a Wreaths Across America Honor Fleet member are, “Do it. You won’t regret it!”
Thank you, Marc Merren and the S & S Transport family, for your continued dedication and support.
You can hear Marc’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).