Professional drivers and trucking companies give so much to the nation. Without the transportation industry, the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach would be nearly impossible to carry out. 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 2021, to be specific, 525 truckloads of wreaths were delivered, representing 390 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, that unity makes it possible for Americans to honor millions of veterans laid to rest here at home and overseas. With over 3,136 participating locations, in addition to Arlington National Cemetery, transportation logistics are immense.
Many of these drivers are veterans and say the truckload of fresh, balsam-fir wreaths is the most precious cargo they transport in their careers. Wreaths Across America highlights their steadfast commitment in the “Trucking Tributes” feature online and on Wreaths Across America Radio.
Don Queeney is the Director of Transportation for Wreaths Across America. When he first got involved with the mission, he admits he was pretty sure of himself and his ability to bring some semblance of order to the operation. After all, he owned and operated a successful moving and storage business. “I said to myself; it couldn’t be that hard. All you need is a whiteboard and a few markers,” he reminisced. “At that time, there were about eleven hundred participating locations. Today, we’re over three thousand and growing.”
Don started with Wreaths Across America back in 2013 when another driver, Steve Myer, told him with tremendous enthusiasm, “you need to try this!” Don ran a civic-minded company and always took the opportunity to serve where there was a need. “We always helped during emergencies when trucks were needed for supplies and such. I looked into Wreaths and thought it would be a good idea. I called to see how we could get involved. The powers that be must have realized they had a guppy on the hook, and they gave me a load for Arlington that first year in 2014. It was a life-changing event for me.” Don went on to express the impression Wreaths Across America had on him back then. “It gave me a completely different opinion of the American public. I was surprised when I saw close to eighty thousand people find their way to Arlington National Cemetery, and you have to put effort into getting there, for the chance to get two, maybe four wreaths to place. It was inspiring. A majority of the folks there don’t necessarily have anyone buried there. They’re just patriots, and they love America and think this is the right thing to do. It was a combination of seeing the people who volunteered to do this, seeing folks venture into a cemetery, perhaps for the first time that’s not for a funeral or it’s their first time in a national cemetery. All those things combined; the love of country, the love of our service members who’ve passed, that’s what moved me. It warmly reminded me that we’re okay.”
Today, Don knows those loads to Arlington are coveted by carriers and drivers alike, but with the organization’s growth across the nation, not every driver gets to Arlington, at least not right away. “That’s the human side of the trucking logistics,” Don explained of the personal connection drivers have with the mission and those volunteers at the receiving end of their cargo. “The logistics behind it are not as easy as one would think. It’s personalized and multi-faceted, making it quite a challenge. Many of our carriers are passionate about the stops they’ve done in the past, having built relationships over the years. Our needs are ever-growing as new locations come on board each year, and I’ve learned a lot, so every year we are upping our game.”
Don tells us, in 2022 and beyond there’s a part that everyone can play in the transportation logistics chain that is Wreaths Across America. It all starts by filling out the trucking volunteer form found at: trucking.wreathsacrossamerica.org
You can hear more of Don’s interview in Trucking Tributes on Wreaths Across America Radio. Trucking Tributes is heard every Trucking Tuesday on Wreaths Radio at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM (eastern).
Tune in to hear Don Queeney, Michael Hale, and Jimmy Mac on "Remember, Honor, Teach" Friday, January 28 at 10:00am ET on The Dave Nemo Show.--SiriusXM 146.