Professional drivers and trucking companies give so much to the nation. Without them, the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach would be nearly impossible. Veterans’ wreaths move by planes, trains, ships, and livestock trailers, but trucks and their professional drivers transport the lion’s share of America's respect. In 2022, to be specific, 609 truckloads of wreaths were delivered, representing 439 different carriers.
In November and December, one of the busiest periods of the year for the transportation sector, the Wreaths Across America mission brings drivers together in an effort of unparalleled unity. With a positive, “can-do” work ethic, these professionals make it possible for Americans to honor millions of veterans laid to rest at home and overseas. In 2023, transportation logistics are immense, with over 4,205 participating locations and Arlington National Cemetery.
Many of these drivers are military veterans and say the truckload of fresh balsam-fir wreaths is the most precious cargo they transport in their careers. Wreaths Across America shares their stories and what motivates them to serve and succeed in the “Trucking Tributes” feature online and on Wreaths Across America Radio.
“Our veteran driver was already in Maine, and they needed to get a truck to him. It was getting that fancy veteran’s wreath wrap at the time,” Jodi Edwards explained one of her first experiences with the Wreaths Across America mission representing J.B. Hunt Transport. “Over the years, I’ve done a variety of things. I just try to help out where it’s needed. I run intermodal now. I put loads on the train, so I was able to run up there to Columbia Falls four years ago and ran a couple of loads back to our rail ramp in Ayer, Mass. It’s a wonderful program, and just going up there was fantastic.”
Jodi’s family understands military service. “My brother is Army retired, and he was in the Old Guard for a period of time down in Arlington. My brother-in-law retired from the Navy, and my boyfriend was in the Navy for ten years. My uncle was also in the Navy, and he’s buried in our local cemetery. My son, who’s since passed away, took my mother, and they placed a wreath at my uncle’s grave. It’s very emotional and touching to see how much this means to families to have this kind of respect for their loved ones.”
Jodi is passionate about her opportunities with Wreaths Across America, representing J.B. Hunt. “I got lucky enough to do a key exchange, and it was fabulous. I came in from Pennsylvania into what was described to me as one of the largest American Legions in the nation in Delaware. I got there early and was able to get set up in the parking lot before any other cars were in there. Then a gentleman from our dedicated facility in Delaware took over the truck and trailer, and he was taking it forward to North Carolina. J.B. Hunt wrapped the trailer, with an aircraft carrier on the one side and some airplanes on the other side, and the people at the American Legion had the local news station there and were thrilled to have that wreath truck come through there. I know that it keeps growing, but more people need to know about Wreaths Across America.”
In addition to being a driver-trainer for J.B. Hunt, Jodi is a tremendous advocate for Women in Trucking and serves on their image team. “Ellen [Voie], the founder, has done an amazing job advocating for changes in the industry that better serve women, but the positive changes and upgrades don’t just benefit women. They benefit the men as well. As a mentor in the trucking industry, I talk to women every day, and try to get the word out that they don’t have to be away from home and their family for long stretches of time. It doesn’t have to be like that.”
Jodi is a fantastic role model for all drivers, bearing down on her 2 million miles safe-driving milestone at the time of this interview.
Thank you, Jodi Edwards and J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., for your continued support of the mission. You can hear Jodi’s full interview on Trucking Tributes, listened to exclusively on Wreaths Across America Radio every Truckin’ Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern.