Truck Drivers Help Honor Veterans Amidst Holiday Hustleby Jana Ritter - Published: 12/16/2013
The Christmas holiday season is often the busiest time for trucking companies, but many took the time to make it possible for hundreds of thousands of fresh remembrance wreaths to be placed upon veterans’ graves at Arlington National Cemetery and 907 other cemeteries nationwide on Dec. 14, National Wreaths Across America Day.
With nearly 30,000 volunteers across the country, a total of 540,000 remembrance wreaths were transported and placed on graves in honor of veterans. “Wreaths Across America Day is an enormous effort that depends heavily on trucks, trailers, professional drivers, a dispatching system and plenty of wreath sponsorships,” said Karen Worcester, Morrill’s wife and the executive director of WAA. “We know that the cost of operating trucking equipment is expensive — especially fuel. Yet, since TCA and its members got involved, we’ve been able to place wreaths at 900 veterans’ cemeteries across the nation — up nearly 100 locations from last year. That’s more than 500,000 soldiers that will be honored this year with a remembrance wreath. It’s an amazing commitment that truly shows what values the trucking industry stands for.”
A few weeks before National Wreaths Across America Day, TCA called upon its members to ensure that all needs would be met. The response was extraordinary, TCA officials said. Trucks, trailers and professional drivers were offered readily. One carrier that could not provide a truck offered to pay for one from another company, including its fuel. TransCore of Beaverton, Oregon, a TCA member, made a special effort to call trucking companies to recruit volunteers. Other industry organizations, such as the Alexandria, Va.-based Transportation Intermediaries Association, also a TCA member, sent out pleas for help to their own membership.
Dispatching assistance was also provided. ITS Dispatch of Newmarket, Ontario, donated software that has been used by TCA for the second year in a row. TCA member JagTrux, Inc. of Elizabethtown, Pa., helped rearrange some routes to ensure that loads were planned in the most cost-effective and logical way.
Truckloads of wreaths were broken down into smaller shipments at Midwestern cross-docking operations set up by TCA-member Tennant Truck Lines of Colona, Ill., and Arrow Truck Sales of Kansas City, Mo.
At Arlington National Cemetery, the opening ceremony took place on a custom-built, mobile stage — a curtain-sided flatbed trailer — provided by Gary Salisbury, former TCA chairman and the president and CEO of Fikes Truck Line at Hope, Ark. The program included two songs by Lindsay Lawler, the spokesperson for TCA’s Highway Angel program and a country singer known for patriotic, pro-trucking lyrics.
This year, for the first time, a stop was made at the Statue of Liberty for the placement of a special Freedom Wreath. The wreath was placed at the Statue in a ceremony to commemorate and honor the men and women of our armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve all Americans' sacred right to freedom.