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.
Not all of our trucking industry partners are what we refer to as rolling ambassadors. Some are quite stationary in fact, but their dedication and commitment to the Wreaths Across America mission to remember our fallen, honor those who currently serve, and teach younger generations the value of freedom is unparalleled.
Enter Wendy Hamilton who's the Senior Manager of Sales Marketing for Pilot Flying J a series of almost seven-hundred travel center across the United States and Canada.
"Our core customer and guest at our locations is the professional truck driver," Wendy explains of their position in the trucking industry.
Wendy first got involved the way so many do which has made Wreaths Across America one of the largest, grassroots nonprofit in America. A friend told her about their experience with the organization.
"Cari Baylor, President of Baylor Trucking, brought to me at an ATA (American Trucking Associations) event in Pheonix, Arizona the idea of Wreaths Across America, and when I heard about it, I fell in love with the concept of honoring our military, especially fallen service members. Cari brought it to me in a way that showed me without the trucking industry the wreaths don't get to the specific cemeteries across the country that allow us to honor those fallen."
That was in 2010 and Wendy says through her involvement with the Truckload Carriers Association's (TCA) Image Policy Committee has allowed her company to expand its involvement in supporting the mission.
"Pilot Flying J has become a significant corporate sponsor supporting the events hosted for Wreaths Across America by TCA, and at our locations by offering promotions where a portion of the proceeds from a cup of coffee went back to Wreaths Across America. In 2016, this promotion was so successful Pilot Flying J and our guests were able to cover a section of Arlington by sponsoring remembrance wreaths."
Wendy's enthusiasm and appreciation for the mission is a personal one. Her grandfather, Daryl Stanley Freeman served in the Air Force during World War II, and the Korean War eventually retiring from the Tennessee Air National Guard, and her other grandfather, James Allen Lovell served in the Army Airborne. Additionally coincidental to Wendy's familial background, one of them also worked in sales and marketing for the trucking industry and the other was a professional driver.
Wendy's involvement with Wreaths Across America is one she readily shares with her family relishing the opportunity to teach her son.
"It doesn't all happen in Arlington. It's all across the country, and perhaps you could start your involvement in your hometown and involve your family so people can see just how important trucking is to the mission. Those professional drivers, many of whom are veterans themselves are trucking freight across the nation every day to keep our economy moving, and they're taking time out of their schedule to transport wreaths to those who have served our country. In my mind, they are heroes delivering to heroes."
Thank you, Wendy Hamilton and Pilot Flying J for your patriotism and tireless support of Wreaths Across America.You can hear more from Wendy in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio weekdays at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern.