Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents Jeff Burgard with Motor Carrier Service, LLC
The Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach is impossible 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. 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.
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 2,700 participating locations in addition to Arlington National Cemetery, transportation logistics are immense.
This Trucking Tributes takes us to Kentucky with Jeff Burgard, a professional driver for Motor Carrier Service, LLC. out of Ohio. Jeff served in the U.S Marines for a year before being discharged due to a training-related injury and downsizing. He's been driving for twenty-one years now. His enthusiasm for the Wreaths Across America mission is palpable, and his commitment hasn't waned. Jeff's journey with Wreaths Across America began with an introduction to the organization by Barry Pottle with Pottle's Transportation in Maine. "I've been involved in some capacity for eleven years," Jeff shared. "I must have made a good enough impression because I've been asked back. I've done Arlington for five years, and one year I took multiple loads into Ohio and Michigan."
Drivers repeatedly comment that a load of veterans' wreaths sponsored by citizens is the most precious cargo they transport in their careers, and Jeff entirely agrees. "I will add, it's important freight and stressful freight as well," Jeff admits. "You're on view with the public, especially at Arlington, and you want to put your best foot forward. You're representing your company and the industry."
Jeff and his wife Sandy have been married for eighteen years. They have a biological daughter, but they also support the foster parenting program and have had multiple children placed in their home over the years. The "teach" portion of the mission speaks to him. "If it's not taught, then it will be forgotten and looked over," Jeff expressed. "It's so important that my wife and kids have traveled to Arlington a couple of those years to be with me. One year, we were in the Freedman's section, and we had two foster kids with us who were mixed [racially]. This gave me a chance to show them a little bit of our history. Some of the headstones there say civilian on them, some say unknown, and some have just a name. If you read Arlington's history about that section, that was the military's way of honoring them, many of them former slaves. They didn't put a company name on them to express they were not the "property" of anybody and that they meant something. The kids that we had struggled with their self-identity," Jeff tearfully explained. "That right there showed them they had worth and let them know that other people care. That had a lot of meaning to me."
Jeff encourages other professional drivers and folks in the trucking industry to get involved in some way with the mission. "It's hard to explain how it makes you feel, but everyone takes something away from it, and what they get from it is different for everyone. I know I'll stay involved. My role may change from year to year, but I'll stay involved with this for the rest of my life."
Thank you, Jeff, and the entire team at Motor Carrier Service, LLC for helping us live up to their legacy. You can hear Jeff's full interview on Trucking Tributes heard every Tuesday at 11:00 AM, and again at 4:00 PM eastern on Wreaths Across America Radio.