Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents Walmart Transportation
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. Combined with a “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 2,900 participating locations and Arlington National Cemetery, transportation logistics are immense.
Nate Lewis is Walmart’s Senior Director of the Supply Chain Management for Regional Transportation. Growing up in a Maine trucking family, Nate has the in’s and out’s of the business coursing through his veins. He started as a driver for Walmart when he joined the company and worked his way into a management position.
“It started as a hometown-proud sort of thing, “Nate explained about getting involved for the first time with Wreaths Across America in 2008. At that time, Nate was the Safety Manager for the Walmart transportation hub in Lewison, Maine. “It was a wonderful organization based in Maine that supported our veterans. It was growing and required transportation sourcing, and we knew we could help with that. We didn’t know what we were getting into and had no idea how it would affect all of us. Now, it changes you over the years of meeting veterans and Gold Star families and seeing how much it means to people. I couldn’t imagine not supporting this organization.”
Walmart was founded by a man, and his brother, who served during World War II. Sam and Bud Walton served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, respectively. Sam’s son also served the nation as a Green Beret Medic during the Vietnam War. According to the Walmart website, the international retailer’s success was largely due to the values he learned in the military.
Involvement with the mission to remember, honor, and teach, goes far beyond the companies’ professional drivers. Jenny Lovering is the General Transportation Manager for Lewiston, Maine, and has been involved since the beginning too. “I was in that office for years, behind the scenes for most of that time dealing with operations and setting up our relay points. I recently had the privilege to participate in the Arlington convoy with Walmart, and Nate’s correct. Once you get involved, it does change you. My father was a Vietnam veteran, and he never told me much about his experiences in the service,” Jenny expressed. “To see these families and hear their stories is very touching, and it has changed my life.”
Jenny explains that Walmart Transportation has sixteen trucks dedicated to hauling America’s respect and three of those are dedicated to Arlington National Cemetery. “We’re also going to Arkansas, California, Texas, Florida, and Minnesota, among other places, because of our relay points, and that’s a great way for us to get more of our Associates involved. We have key-exchange ceremonies where they invite dignitaries and members of the military and community to participate, making it very special for them. It’s a wreath-passing ceremony from one driver to the next in a scripted ceremony that explains the Wreaths Across America mission and talks about the wreath’s symbolism. This happens at about forty different distribution centers and Walmart Transportation offices across the country.”
Many of the drivers for Walmart are veterans, and one of their quotes has stuck with Jenny throughout the years. “It was from a driver who participated in Arlington. He said, ’this may not be the most expensive load I’ve hauled, but it’s definitely the most valuable.’ That explains just how much the mission means to them.”
Nate says Walmart’s support over the years is made possible through in-kind contributions from Walmart Transportation, and grants from the Walmart Foundation and Associates. Nate is also giving of his time to serve on the Wreaths Across America’s Board of Directors.
Thank you, Nate, Jenny, and the Walmart team, for your continued mission support. You can hear Nate and Jenny’s full interview on Trucking Tributes heard exclusively on Wreaths Across America Radio every Tuesday, at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM (eastern).
You can also hear Walmart drivers featured during Trucking Tuesdays at 7:15 AM (eastern) on the Wreaths Radio Morning Show, live with Michael W. Hale.
Tune in to hear Nate Lewis, Michael Hale, and Jimmy Mac on "Remember, Honor, Teach" Saturday, November 27 at 10:30am ET on Dave Nemo Weekends.--SiriusXM 146.