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.
"Anyone who's moved cross-country once in their life will tell you it's tough and when you're doing it multiple times in your military career, and at the pay rates some of these guys work at, that's a sacrifice in itself."
Don Queeney Owner and Vice President of Hampton Roads Moving and Storage in Suffolk, Virginia has relocated military families for most of his professional career and appreciates all they do in service to the country. He is also a supporter of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach, recruited four years ago by another professional mover, Steven Meyer.
Don has hauled balsam remembrance wreaths in the past, but it was his experiences in 2016 on the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery as an Escort Chauffer that he gained a full appreciation of the impact the organization has on military families and the nation.
Driving an escort vehicle in which interviews were being conducted for J.B. Hunt he was able to hear firsthand the stories of some of the Gold Star families who had lost loved ones.
"I thought I knew what to expect," Don admits. "But, it was above and beyond that, and at times I was blown away, going from one emotion to the next. At one point when we arrived at the St. Bernard School and the band was playing, and kids were waving flags shouting U.S.A., U.S.A. I was bawling inside. I was just hugging everyone I could find."
It was a powerful moment for Don knowing Americans sponsored over a million wreaths that were on their way to cemeteries throughout the nation to honor veterans and to personally witness other citizens celebrate their pride and patriotism along the escort route.
"I've seen the pictures of course," Don explains. "It's just not the same to see every-day people not affiliated with Wreaths Across America in any other way would take the effort to buy a fresh flag and stand outside of their home or office in the freezing drizzle and show their pride as an American as we drove through was heart-warming."
Don himself has not donned a uniform of the armed forces, but his father served in World War II, and his family history shows military involvement dated back to the Revolutionary War. Aside from his deep appreciation and respect for those who serve Don is a self-proclaimed "logistics junkie" excited by the complexity involved with moving fresh, hand-made balsam fir remembrance wreaths from Downest Maine to points all across the country in a short amount of time.
"In addition to driving an escort vehicle back in December, I helped setting up some cross-dock situations. I assisted Rob and the team in developing some unique ways of getting some loads onto smaller trucks so a big tractor trailer didn't need to find a cemetery in "small town, USA" and find itself in an area that couldn't accommodate a bigger truck."
As Wreaths Across America expands with volunteers investing time and effort in their communities to be sure no hometown hero goes unacknowledged, the coordination of transporting America's respect will be a monumental task Don is eager and willing to support.
Don encourages others in the industry to get involved with the Wreaths Across America mission.
"Yes, there is some time and expense involved for certain, but I can go on record saying there's not a person who has done it once who wouldn't say, I'd do it again; it's too moving."
Thank you, Don Queeney and Hampton Roads Moving and Storage for your patriotism and tireless support of Wreaths Across America.
You can hear more from Don and other patriots in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio weekdays at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern.