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.

When you think about massive trucking logistics, supply and demand, and how the delivery of fresh products supports the backbone of America you may likely turn your thoughts to the Wreaths Across America effort now underway as we continue our Countdown to Wreath Day, Saturday, December 16, 2017.

However, Wreaths Across America thinks about our system of supermarkets throughout the nation and the crucial role they play in our lives regarding transporting consumables and other products. What customers may not see every day though or hear about is the pride employees feel knowing their employers support the communities in which they live and work.

Granville "Dick" Brown and Paul Maille are professional drivers for Hannaford, and it's a competition between them as to who boasts more about Hannaford's support of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach.

Dick has been employed by Hannaford for 39 years, and after "retiring" as a driver he was brought back as the special events coordinator. He's a self-proclaimed "Jack-of-all-Trades" and enjoys every minute of it.

"Oh, anyone would love to have my job," Dick shares. "The best part is I get to drive an antique truck called "Little Miss Molly," and I drive that around in parades and at specials events like touch-a-trucks and store openings. It's a 1948 Chevy farm truck. Anywhere there's a Hannaford store location you'll find Hannaford is very involved in community affairs and events."

Don't be fooled, however. Dick's job is not all fun and games. He has a tremendous responsibility coordinating logistics for members of Hannaford's Wreaths Across America honor fleet transporting remembrance wreaths from Columbia Falls, Maine to Arlington National Cemetery.

"We have a deadline for drivers to sign up to participate and then we have a drawing," Dick explains. "If a driver is a veteran, his or her name goes into the hat twice. Every year I have people approach me and say that if someone for whatever reason can't make the trip they want to be put on the backup list. I haven't had a driver yet come back from the experience with a dry eye."

Paul is one of those drivers, and he's been in the transportation business since 1977 driving for Hannaford for the past 13 years. Last year, he transported America's respect to Arlington, and he recalls his emotion driving down Memorial Drive.

"One thing I will never forget is getting into Arlington and it was a cold, rainy day with freezing rain, and I remember looking around at all the empty headstones thinking to myself oh my God how are we going to do this. Then volunteers showed up by the thousands, from ages ten to into their 70's and even older, "Paul recalls choked up with emotion. "Not one person ever complained about the weather, and it was an amazing feeling only a few hours later to see the entire cemetery covered with wreaths. I told my boss later it was like driving through the gates of Heaven."

Paul says even though he never served in the military he was deeply moved by the show of patriotism along the Annual Wreath Escort route.

"Seeing the greeting in every town we went through with kids out waving American flags and shouting thank you. I can only imagine how the veterans who are drivers must have felt."

Paul says he believes in the value of teaching younger generations about the sacrifices our military families have endured to ensure our liberties.

"I don't think young people really understand what their grandfathers, fathers, or aunts and uncles went through to keep us safe, or to liberate others."

In addition to supporting the Wreaths Across America mission with drivers and trucks for the honor fleet, Hannaford supplies food for the driver's lounge in Columbia Falls and some of the convoy stops along the escort route.

Thank you, Dick, Paul and the entire Hannaford team for your patriotism and tireless support of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.

You can hear more from Dick, Paul, 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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