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How Wreaths Across America Honors Our Fallen Heroes (and How You Can, Too)

By Sean M. Lyden - Staff Writer
Posted Dec 12th 2016 9:13AM

This Saturday, December 17, is National Wreaths Across America Day, when thousands of volunteers will converge at Arlington Cemetery and over 1,100 other locations across the nation and abroad to remember America's fallen heroes, as they place a wreath on each veteran's grave, saying that person's name aloud and thanking them for their service to the nation.

Since those wreaths are laid at the graves of military personnel, you might assume that the cost is covered by the government. But it's actually paid for with private donations to Wreaths Across America, which organizes a national network of volunteers to lay over 700,000 memorial wreaths each year.

And there has been a growing number of volunteers and donors coming from the expedited trucking industry, including John Elliott, chief executive officer for Load One LLC, an expedited trucking carrier headquartered in Taylor, Mich, who started supporting Wreaths Across America about seven years ago after reading an article about the charity.

Elliott says he was drawn to the organization's mission because of his own military experience, having served in the Army Reserves, and thought that he could be especially helpful by providing trucking assistance to transport wreaths to the various cemeteries.

"Wreaths Across America is helping to make sure that we always teach people about the sacrifices our veterans make--and to never forget them," says Elliott. "It's a charity that trucking is a critical element of, so it plays a great role in building the image of our industry. And I think it's a great way to help support our drivers in that we have such a high percentage of drivers who are former military or their family is military. I think drivers and carriers take a lot of pride in their participation."

Elliott says that Load One hauled about six truckloads of wreaths last year, along with providing expedite support, as-needed, for load recoveries and last-minute shipments. "There are a lot of last-minute shipping needs, such as when a truck is broken down or they must divert a shipment to another location," says Elliot. "So we've sent expedite trucks out to those vehicles to unload the wreaths and move them to a different place."

Load One also offers transportation to staff who'd like to participate on National Wreaths Across America Day at Michigan National Cemetery in Holly, Mich. "One of the things we do is charter two big buses so that--because it's about an hour and a half from our terminal--our employees, families and drivers who want to participate can ride up on the buses and be there to help unload the trucks and place the wreaths on the graves. It gives the entire Load One family the opportunity to participate in the charity," says Elliott.

And while the laying of wreaths can be a heart-warming experience, there are those moments that really put things in perspective, says Elliott. "When you watch a woman with small children at the grave of a newly fallen soldier--her husband and their father--those are hard, hard moments to see. It's definitely a very moving experience."

So, how you can you get involved with Wreaths Across America--to ensure that no fallen hero is forgotten? Visit http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/ for details on event locations, volunteer opportunities, and donations.

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