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 2022, 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.
Melissa Glasser has been driving most of her life, admittedly coming by some of her skills early on in life like many young people who grew up in more rural areas of the country. “I drove my first truck when I was seven,” Melissa shared, saying she was not the least bit intimated. “It was my uncle’s truck, and I got to drive it around my grandfather's farm. My brother has me beat, though; he was four-and-a-half.”
Melissa’s father served in the Air Force, and as a military child, Melissa grew accustomed to moving and sightseeing, and that sense of adventure stuck with her as she raised a family. Once the kids were grown, Melissa pursued her love of trucks and travel. “I got my license, I’m on the road, and I love every minute of it. I’ve been to all but twelve of our fifty states so far in a truck.”
Melissa drives for Paschall Truck Lines, or PTL, out of Murray, Kentucky. She credits PTL with providing opportunities to support her passion for working with meaningful charities and special events that promote trucking safety. It’s how she got involved with the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach. “The first year I hauled Wreaths, the way my deliveries were scheduled, I didn’t get the full experience, so this year , I made it a point to do that. This year, I could visit the tip land, experience the driver’s banquet, and leave with the annual wreath escort as it left on its journey to Arlington. We had another driver there, too, this year, Kenneth Horsky. He went to Alabama this year for his run, and in the years I’ve driven, I've gone to Indiana and Illinois.”
Melissa said she learned much more about Wreaths Across America this year than she knew the previous year. “When you see it all in operation, and you think over two million wreaths were placed, that’s a lot of heart, and people are doing this for the right reasons.”
Melissa’s selfless actions and “heart” illustrated how the veteran’s wreath catalyzes lifelong friendships and meaningful connections. While in Maine, Melissa met a fellow driver for Knight Transportation, Melissa’s first employer. They discovered they grew up in the same area but had never met. He made a veteran’s wreath at the driver’s lounge and expressed a desire to see the wreath placed at the headstone of his father-in-law, who had served in Vietnam. However, he was not going to be traveling in the right direction with his wreaths to make that possible, but Melissa knew she might have a way to make it all happen for this man and his family. “I made some phone calls to my aunt and uncle and asked them to meet me and help me find the headstone so we could place his wreath to honor his father-in-law. We were out there with flashlights, and we made it happen and shared it with the family. It was extremely emotional, and after we did that, my aunt and Uncle were asking a lot of questions about Wreaths Across America, and I think they’ll be getting more involved.”
Thank you, Melissa, and the whole team at PTL, for supporting the mission to remember, honor, and teach. You can hear Melissa’s full interview as part of Trucking Tributes, listened to every Truckin’ Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern on Wreaths Across America Radio.