To support the Wreaths Across America mission to Honor, Remember and Teach, FASTPORT encouraged over 40 industry-leading companies to join the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery following the historic ESGR Statement of Support Signings at the Pentagon.
Now a nationally recognized event, Wreaths Across America began in 1992 with two people and one idea: to teach people to honor and remember Veterans. That year, orders were down for holiday wreaths that Morrill and Karen Worcester’s company produced, and they had 5,000 wreaths left over.
As the Worcesters considered what to do with the leftover wreaths, Morrill remembered how impactful visiting Arlington National Cemetery had been as a child. Inspired by that memory, he called a truck driver friend to invited his family on a trip to Arlington where they would all place wreaths on Veteran graves with their children. He believed that it would help teach the next generation the value of honoring Veterans past and present. Little did he know just how far that lesson would spread in a few short years.
After years of this wreath-laying tradition, something changed in 2005. That year it snowed, and a Pentagon photographer snapped a picture of the wreaths and posted the photo online.
The photo went viral, and suddenly the Worcester’s mailbox was stuffed with donations from kind strangers. To ensure those donations would contribute to the mission to remember, honor and teach, Morrill and Karen officially founded Wreaths Across America.
The phenomenon has steadily grown since then and culminated on Saturday when a convoy of trucks filled to the brim with wreaths passed thousands of spectators waving flags and waiting to take part in the effort. As the truck drivers parked their precious cargo, lines of volunteers formed to carry wreaths and place them on each Veteran‘s grave in the cemetery.
“I have worked closely with Wreaths Across America for years now, and witnessing the program grow to include more than 900,000 wreaths being placed at 1,100 cemeteries is truly incredible,” said FASTPORT President Brad Bentley. “I know that being able to see the mission being carried out by our best drivers and fleets who have dedicated their time and equipment toward such an essential effort to honor Veterans is a source of pride for the trucking industry.”
FASTPORT Co-Founder Jim Ray echoed Bentley: “Trucking has been a part of my life since I was a child, and I have seen incredible work being done in the industry to employ the military community. But nothing, nothing in the past has been more of an inspiration to me than watching the industry come together in such a tangible way to honor our nation’s Veterans with Wreaths Across America. We were privileged to see that kind of unity first-hand.”
During the official Wreaths Ceremony, Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia expressed his gratitude for the focus on honoring our nation’s military heroes. Sgt. Maj. Battaglia is the second Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the senior non-commissioned officer of the Armed Forces. Dozens of current military service members actively participated in the wreath-laying event alongside the thousands of civilian volunteers. This teamwork was noted and showed that remembering the Fallen is the duty of all citizens (military and civilian), and that Wreaths Across America is instrumental in promoting that goal.
“Wreaths Across America’s mission to remember, honor and teach is an essential one. Our Veterans, past and present, are our nation’s best asset in both the military and professional worlds,” said FASTPORT CEO Bill McLennan. “By recognizing and remembering their talents, sacrifice, drive, and ability, we will strengthen our country. The trucking industry is particularly invested in the military because so many of its companies depend on employees with military experience, so it was an honor to coordinate to bring industry leaders here to Arlington to participate in the Wreaths event.”
To learn more about Wreaths Across America and its mission to Remember, Honor and Teach, visit their website here.