An enduring commitment to Wreaths Across America
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 introduce you to the men and women of the industry who make the mission possible.
Our responsibility to teach the next generation is profoundly expressed in the lyrics of a Stephen Sondheim song “…careful the things you say children will listen. Careful the things you do, children will see and learn. Children may not obey, but children will listen. Children will look to you for which way to turn…”
When people are asked which part of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach strikes them the most, they often say teaching younger generations the value of freedom and the sacrifices of our military and their families to protect our liberties.
Sherri Garner Brumbaugh is President and CEO of Garner Trucking out of Findlay, Ohio. The trucking business along with a strong work ethic and a healthy dose of patriotism were passed down to her from her parents Vern and Regina Garner who started Garner Trucking 58 years ago.
Sherri learned about Wreaths Across America through her involvement with the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA). She and her team at Garner Trucking have been supporting the trucking logistics by transporting veterans’ wreaths from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery. In 2014, Sherri decided to join the Annual Wreath Escort from Maine to Arlington by traveling in the VIP bus with veterans and Gold Star families.
“I’ve always had an appreciation for veterans,” Sherri explains. “That appreciation deepened with the escort experience. Sitting beside and sharing time with someone who has lost their son or daughter you get a full impact of the true sacrifice. It truly was a life-changing event.”
In addition to supporting transports to Arlington National Cemetery, Garner Trucking is supporting the Wreaths Across America effort in Ohio too.
“I’m very passionate about Wreaths, and my community and what we do really comes from the heart.”
Sherri has passed that commitment and sense of obligation to her son Jonathan Brumbaugh.
“My Mom and 5th-grade teacher Deb Wickerham encouraged me to turn Wreaths Across America into my Eagle Scout project,” Jonathan explains of his initial involvement. “I had to count the veterans graves at our local cemetery, I got the cemetery added to a list of participating cemeteries with Wreaths Across America, and I did the fundraising for the wreaths.”
In researching and walking the grounds with a clicker-counter, Jonathan discovered the cemetery had approximately 4,500 veterans with marked graves and about 500 more whose gravesites were not marked as being a veteran.
As part of his fundraising efforts, with continued support from Garner, Jonathan created an annual fundraising bike ride that makes stops at American Legions and VFW’s along the 100-mile route. It’s celebrating it’s third year as an event this month.
Jonathan is leaving Findlay for college this year and in doing so had to find a way to continue the Wreaths Across America ceremony and wreath-laying event on National Wreaths Across America Day in December.
“Our community has always supported veterans, and it’s great to see the veterans and families come out for events like this,” Jonathan says. “This is another way to say ‘thank you’ to our veterans, and I’m proud of what we’ve started. It feels so good to be a part of something that’s bigger than yourself.”
Jonathan has spent the last several months making sure the Wreaths Across America events continue in his absence, and he’s passed the responsibility on to Ohio’s Hancock County Youth Leadership group.
Sherri says she’s very proud of her son’s efforts and what he’s been able to share with others by getting them engaged.
“It’s important to teach the more distant we become from war events,’ Sherri explains. “I remember the 60’s and 70’s and I remember those Vietnam veterans coming home being treated terribly and being spat on. I don’t ever want us to treat our veterans like that again, and I think the children need to understand that. “
Garner Trucking’s support of Wreaths Across America is not small contribution. They take trucks out of their system of operation, pay their drivers to haul empty trailers to Maine, which is out of their freight network, and that involves fuel and maintenance for the trucks. It’s a donation valued at approximately 2,500.00 per truck.
“I’m really proud of my trucking peers who make it happen and appreciative of the Worcester family and our partnership that works together to bring good.”
Thank you Sherri, Jonathan and the Garner Trucking team for your patriotism and tireless support of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.
You can hear more from our trucking patriots in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 every Tuesday.