Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents Joseph Rini and Daughters Trucking
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. 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.
Joe Rini, of Joseph Rini and Daughters Trucking out of Ohio, is passionate about trucking and the Wreaths Across America mission. “I got involved in trucking in high school,” Joe reminisced. “In twelfth grade, I bought my first truck and hired a driver. Later, I worked for an outfit out of Colorado hauling meat, and once they started to close their business, I went on to get my own authority. I’ve had my own authority now for thirty years and built a decent trucking company.” The name of his trucking company worked out pretty well, too, until his son was born. “When I opened the brokerage, I called it Joey’s Transport, so he didn’t feel left out.” Joe’s love for trucking was clear at a young age. “I had neighbors who dealt in trucks, but I grew up in the country, and we were always messing with tractors at a young age. I knew I wasn’t set for college. I graduated in 1977, and I did look into the military, but at that time, the recruiter was looking for a seven-year commitment, and I didn’t think I could do that, so I jumped into the trucking industry with both feet.”
Fast forward to 2019. That’s when another driver told Joe about Wreaths Across America and recommended that he get involved. Joe did just that, but the logistics didn’t come together for him until 2020, the year of the COVID pandemic. “It was on one minute and off the next minute,” Joe shares of his inaugural year. “I had already asked my friend, who is a Vietnam veteran, Skip Frank, to take the trip with me, but with COVID, we decided it was best that he come with me the following year.” Despite the logistics challenges brought about by the pandemic, Joe’s experience left him wanting more. “Once you do it, you just keep looking forward to the next year.” Furthermore, Joe had made a promise to Skip that he would ride too in 2021.
As Joe kept his promise to Skip in Ohio, Dehlia Elbe in Pennsylvania was planning on making the trek to the Driver’s Lounge in Columbia Falls, Maine, as she does biennially with her father, a member of the Tyson Foods Cook Team. Unbeknownst to complete strangers, their lives were about to become permanently intertwined in friendship and respect.
“In 2021, when I had Skip with me, the Mobile Education Exhibit was on site at the driver’s lounge, and they were pinning Vietnam veterans, so it must have been karma that interfered with our plans in 2020.” Dehlia met Skip in the driver’s lounge and sat down to ask Skip questions about his service for a school report, but it was much more for Skip. “He felt like he was finally home,” Joe spoke of the healing he witnessed in his friend. “Skip told stuff to her that he’s probably never told anyone in his life. He was able to visit the museum and tag a tree for his whole unit, the men he lost before he was wounded. It meant a lot to him.”
Joe tells us that he and Skip are already looking forward to 2022. “In 2021, the relationships were beautiful,” Joe shared. “More family, more people came out to help and get involved. I made like six drops in Pennsylvania and a couple over in Ohio. I’ve met Gold Star Moms who’ve said, take a look at my son’s story, and it breaks your heart they’ve lost their loved one, but to see the heroic things they’ve done and how they carry on their traditions of supporting other families. It touches your heart. I can’t explain the feelings I have. It’s almost like I can’t do enough. A tank of fuel or two, I mean, what’s that? For what these people have given us, their sons and daughters, husbands, and wives. Ten days out of my year is nothing as far as I’m concerned, and I’ll do it as long as I can.”
Thank you, Skip, for your service, and welcome home! Thank you, Joe, and all those affiliated with Joseph Rini and Daughters Trucking who support the mission to remember, honor, and teach! We look forward to seeing you in Maine again soon! You can hear Joe’s full interview on Trucking Tributes. Trucking Tributes is heard every Trucking Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM (eastern) exclusively on Wreaths Across America Radio.
Tune in to hear Joseph Rini, Michael Hale, and Jimmy Mac on "Remember, Honor, Teach" Friday, August 26 at 10:00am ET on The Dave Nemo Show.--SiriusXM 146.