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 special stories will introduce you to the men and women of the industry who make the mission possible.
Virginian and professional mover for close to twenty-seven years, Steven Meyer drives for Arpin Van Lines out of Rhode Island and has been involved with Wreaths Across America for four years. Three of those years he and his wife Angie served Arlington National Cemetery, and in 2016 he took his truckload of respect to Quantico National Cemetery in Triangle, Virginia.
Steve has a complete appreciation for and understanding of the sacrifice of military families. He also values the opportunities, and freedoms we have in America that make this country a proud nation.
"My Dad was essentially married to the Air Force and my Mom, a German National who became a naturalized citizen also served," Steve explains. "I didn't have that normal, stereotypical American life as a kid growing up in a neighborhood developing life-long friends. I never lived in a place for much more than two years at a time, and I traveled and lived in other countries growing up."
Steve's exposure as a military child to other countries and cultures deepened his understanding of the liberties we enjoy in America.
"A majority of us have no idea exactly how good we have it here compared to other places in the world because a lot of us don't go anywhere else and many who do travel abroad are going to a vacation destination. In the United States, you can go to almost any spigot in the country and get a drink of fresh water that's not going to kill you. There are places in the world where you can't do that, and we have freedom. Freedom of religion and freedom to let people do what they want to do, and think what they want to think as long as it doesn't affect someone else in a negative capacity."
"I've always appreciated the military. These people have signed on the line for us and they have to leave their families when called, and some of them may never come home. Military families sacrifice so much too," Steve reminds us.
"Sometimes people have asked me why I'm devoting my time and expense to people who are dead and I quickly remind them that Wreaths Across America is for the living. I tell them you cannot know the feeling until you look someone in the eye and hand them a wreath and they put that wreath on the headstone of someone they loved. It means so much to the living; it's what Wreaths Across America is all about!"
Steve and Arpin Van Lines are rolling ambassadors for Wreaths Across America, and a good majority of Steve's customers he helps move from point A to point B with "everything in one piece" are military families.
"I drive slow because I like to keep my costs down so I'm always in the right lane with people passing me on the highway and I get at least five thumbs up a day when people see the Wreaths Across America name and pictures on my truck."
Steve was honored in 2015 by Wreaths Across America with the "Greatest Impact" award and is seen in this picture with Wreaths Across America Founder, Morrill Worcester.
With Arlington National Cemetery and over 1,200 other participating locations throughout the country, the logistics handled through WAA Headquarters by Julie Bright, Rob Worcester, and other critical volunteers and organizations is immense. Hauling America's respect is a substantial investment to the cause by the trucking industry.
A few years ago, Steve took on some cross-dock responsibilities that brought him from Virginia to Columbia Falls, Maine to pick up the load of wreaths he took to Kansas City. From Kansas City, he "dead-headed" (returned with no load) back to Columbia Falls and picked up his trailer of wreaths that were headed for Arlington racking up thousands of miles in a seven day period.
"We did receive some fuel cards from Love's Truck Stops, and the TCA (Truckload Carriers Association) has helped to offset some costs, but you've got to figure it costs me about seventy-five cents a mile to run."
Thank you, Steve Meyer and your colleagues at Arpin Van Lines for caring so deeply about our veterans and their families and helping us to teach younger generations the value of freedom and community service. Don't be surprised if Steve reaches out to you to get involved with Wreaths Across America, so no military veteran is ever forgotten.
You can tune into Wreaths Across America Radio weekdays at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern time to hear more from our dedicated supporters in "Trucking Tributes."