Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents Open Range Transportation, Inc.
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.
Our professional drivers and trucking companies give so much to the nation. In December, arguably the busiest time of the year for the transportation sector, the Wreaths Across America mission brings them together in an effort of unparalleled unity. That unity, combined with a “can-do” work ethic, makes it possible for Americans to honor millions of veterans laid to rest here at home, and overseas. With over 2,100 participating locations in addition to Arlington National Cemetery in 2019, transportation logistics for the organization are immense.
If you want to understand the passion and commitment behind the Wreaths Across America mission, you need only speak to a professional driver who transports the wreaths. Robert Errthum with Open Range Transportation, Inc. is a U.S. military veteran, and one of those drivers. He made his decision to get involved about four years ago. “I was thumbing through Facebook one day and saw a video showing a long procession of trucks heading into Arlington National Cemetery,” he explained. “It was about a 20-minute clip and I sat there and watched it. Then I watched it again, and the third time I watched it I literally had tears in my eyes and said I want to be a part of this.” Robert said when he showed his wife, she was immediately on board with the concept and told him to “make it happen.”
Robert wasted no time in reaching out to Wreaths Across America and he wound up with veterans’ wreaths destined for the headstones of fallen heroes in participating locations in Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska. He was able to pick up the wreaths from a cross-dock operation in St. Louis operated by McGuire Moving and Storage.
While he was participating and doing his part for the mission, there was still something missing for Robert. He expressed his desire to be one of those trucks destined for Arlington. He was put on the waiting list with several others and that’s as far as it went until recently. The Director of Transportation for Wreaths Across America, Don Queeney, announced on the Dave Nemo Show that Robert would be given that opportunity this year to be one of the staged trucks inside the cemetery. “I was overwhelmed and speechless,” Robert shared. “I was filled with so many emotions. My phone has not stopped ringing yet with folks calling to congratulate me.”
Presenting Robert with the coveted spot in Arlington was a way for Wreaths Across America to acknowledge Robert’s contributions to our country in military service and his volunteerism today. He and his wife share generously of their resources and time not only supporting the Wreaths Across America mission, but also that of their own nonprofit organization. “18 Wheels of Hope stemmed from a truck that we had built five or six years ago called Miles of Memories. It was dedicated to family members we had lost to cancer. We had gone around the country for a couple of years promoting cancer awareness of all kinds,” Robert explained the evolution of the organization. “What we do [today] is work with injured veterans, major veterans’ clinics and veterans’ hospitals and go in and interact with the veterans to see what they need and assist them to get what they need. We also support kids with cancer.”
Thank you, Robert for all you do to support our veterans and others. You can hear Robert’s full interview on Trucking Tributes, which airs every Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM EDT on Wreaths Across America Radio.