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  • Writer's pictureJimmy Mac

Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents Ken Mateer with American Central Transport

Professional drivers and trucking companies give so much to the nation. Without them, 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 2023, to be specific, 717 truckloads of wreaths were delivered, representing 332 different carriers and partners.


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, these professionals make it possible for Americans to honor millions of veterans laid to rest at home and overseas. In 2024, with over 4,300 participating locations, in addition to Arlington National Cemetery, transportation logistics are immense.


Many of these drivers are military veterans and say the truckload of fresh balsam-fir wreaths is the most precious cargo they transport in their careers. Wreaths Across America shares their stories in the “Trucking Tributes” feature online and on Wreaths Across America Radio and Sirius XM, Channel 146, Road Dog Trucking.


It was a call from the open road that got Ken Mateer’s attention early in life. “I started riding with my stepfather as a young kid during the summers and it just got in my blood.” Service in the U.S. Army would ultimately come before Ken’s trucking career. “When I joined, I had to decide if I was going to be a truck driver or a plumber. I was working at a Salvation Army campground helping the plumber, so I became a construction engineer when I was active duty. Then when I got out and went into trucking, I joined the National Guard and my MOS was field artillery, shooting rockets down range, that sort of thing. They could still depend on me though to move things around because of my trucking background.”


33 years later, he still enjoys the job. “I absolutely love it. The scenery and being free you can kick back, you’re doing your job and doing it safely, but there’s just something relaxing about hitting the open road.” Early on in his career, Ken traveled across the country but now he works for a mid-west carrier, American Central Transport out of Kansas City Missouri. “I’ve been with company for almost six years now and I’ve never been with a company that long. We’re a family-oriented company and stick to our values of integrity, safety and respect. They do a cookout for us the second Tuesday of every month and during driver appreciation week they cook for us every day and they give us swag. They call us by our name and not a number.” Ken says the company was founded in 1926 and they’re looking forward to their centennial. 


Now you might ask yourself how a truck driver in Missouri gets connected with Wreaths Across America which is based in Downeast, Maine. “It was actually through TCA (Truckload Carriers Association,” Ken explained. “I don’t come to Maine to get the Wreaths, I pick up at the cross dock in St. Louis,” Ken explained. “I deliver to the Lee Summit, Missouri Cemetery. The man and woman who set up the cemetery with Wreaths Across America, their son was killed in a helicopter crash in Egypt. It just struck me because I served in Egypt too, not at the same time of course, but there was just something there for me to discover that we served in the same place. It’s fascinating to learn the stories behind why the location coordinators volunteer for Wreaths Across America.”


How does Ken describe service and sacrifice? “The willingness to put that uniform on and go to a foreign country to be sure that what’s happening in that country doesn’t happen in ours. Whether you think we did right or wrong is another discussion, and it’s not the point. The sacrifice is leaving your family behind. Yeah, driving a truck I have to leave them, but at least I can still get home to see them. When you put the uniform on, and you’re deployed, you’re gone for a year or more. My youngest daughter was born when I was in Iraq.”


Thank you, Ken Mateer with American Central Transport, for helping support the mission to remember, honor, and teach.


If you’d like to join the Wreaths Across America Honor Fleet, you can get started with a click right here!

 

You can hear more with Ken on Trucking Tributes, which can be listened to every Truckin’ Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM EST on Wreaths Across America Radio and Wednesday at 8:30 AM EST on Sirius XM Channel 146, Road Dog Trucking Radio.


Sponsor a wreath at the RadioNemo Wreaths Across America Page.


Discover the Trucking Tributes archive playlist on Soundcloud.com

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