Wreaths Across America receives no government funding to support operations. Motivated and dedicated patriots across the country and at locations overseas power the Maine-based nonprofit organization. The mission to remember, honor, and teach is carried out daily by millions of citizens who care deeply for those who have served our nation in the armed forces, and their families. Some of these remarkable individuals are veterans themselves or come from military families while others are driven by a deep sense of patriotism and community service. 

Placing fresh, hand-made balsam remembrance wreaths on the headstones of veterans across the country in December requires tremendous logistics and unyielding support from the trucking industry.

Wreaths Across America shows its gratitude and appreciation for all those involved in transporting America's respect with "Trucking Tributes." These stories will introduce you to the men and women of the industry who make the mission possible.

It's a wonderful feeling when Wreaths Across America can create memorable moments for the companies and volunteers who support the mission. With hundreds of trucking companies and close to 1,300 participating locations involved, it's not always easy to accommodate special requests, but when we can, we appreciate the excitement and enthusiasm it generates.

Take Dart Transit Company out of Minneapolis, Minnesota as an example. Dart employees and professional drivers have been supporting Wreaths Across America for eight years and have increased their level of support every year. Last year as members of our Honor Fleet, Dart transported five truckloads of America's respect to participating locations and this year it will be seven or eight. 

"I've been begging Wreaths Across America for the opportunity to deliver a truckload of wreaths to Fort Snelling National Cemetery," explains Kristin Ries, Communications Manager for Dart. "My grandfather is buried there, and I know that there are a lot of people who work here who have family buried there as well."

Kristin's grandfather, Arnold (Arnie) Mueller served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War as a cook, and the family recently found some of his recipes and donated them to Fort Snelling's history collection.

It just so happens that this year a Dart Transit truck and driver will be delivering a truckload of wreaths to Fort Snelling.

Driver Pat Wortham is an independent contractor for Dart Transit and a member of the Wreaths Across America honor fleet. He also has a rich history of military service in his family.

"My grandfather Frank Schwan was a World War II Marine vet wounded twice," Pat shares. "He actually lied on his application about his age when he was 16 years-old and got caught in boot camp and sent home. His mother signed off on it, and he went back to the Marines and served four years. I've got 14 years with the National Guard, and my brother Doug Wortham is full-time with the National Guard. We both served together ten months in Iraq in 2009-2010. It was kind of nice to be on deployment and have family serving there with you."

A few years ago, Dart had an application process for drivers to lease their special edition military tribute trucks and Pat was selected. When Kristin reached out and said they needed trucks for Wreaths Across America, Pat said he'd do anything to support his fallen brothers and sisters in arms.

"This Wreaths Across America thing is excellent," Pat exclaimed. "It's really a humbling experience to pull into a national cemetery and have two or three hundred people waiting there to unload and place these wreaths on the graves of our fallen veterans. At a time when turmoil and animosity seem so strong in our country, it's good to see people come together and let these families know we haven't forgotten about their brother, or mother, sister or husband. It's so important especially during the holidays."

Pat's story as a member of the honor fleet is remarkable, and it's a testament to the commitment and dedication of our volunteers.

There was a logistical challenge with a load of wreaths and Pat was assigned to reach Mandan North Dakota. On his trek, he encountered a snow storm and an ice storm and had to communicate the load of wreaths would not make it in time for National Wreath Day, so they all managed to regroup the next day for their ceremony and wreath-laying.

"It was below zero that day, and these people didn't seem to care," Pat described. "They were there for a purpose and they got it done and made it happen. I was amazed. My hats off to them."

Pat further expressed what the opportunity to haul a truckload of America's respect meant to him.

"I think the load of wreaths is probably the most important load I have ever hauled in twenty years because of what it means to all the people on the other end. It's important to all the volunteers who have worked so hard to have the wreaths for our fallen veterans. It's very humbling, and I don't know how anyone would not be brought to tears to see the families and what this means to them." 

Thank you, Kristin, Pat and the Dart Transit team for your patriotism and tireless support of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.

You can hear more from Kristin, Pat and our other patriots in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern Monday-Friday.

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