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 2023, to be specific, 717 truckloads of wreaths were delivered, representing 332 different carriers and partners.
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 2024, with over 4,200 participating locations, in addition to Arlington National Cemetery, transportation logistics are immense.
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 in the “Trucking Tributes” feature online and on Wreaths Across America Radio.
Sure. It may be illegal, but it’s still one of those rights of passage for almost every young person that people tend to disregard with a cavalier smile. It’s that moment when your parent or grandparent gives you permission to hop in their lap behind the steering wheel and take control of the family car or truck on a dirt road or backcountry field. If you were big enough to reach, you might be lucky enough to push the pedals or shift.
Steve Kuczynski remembers that exhilarating feeling when his dad let him move around some trucks at the wrecker company he worked for at the time. He credits his dad for instilling his desire to be part of the trucking industry. “My dad was always into trucks and towing and stuff like that. Probably my first harrowing experience was when my dad had to pick up a load in PA,” Steve recalled. “We were running heavy at the time driving an old Mack, and there was no Jake break. Coming down that mountain and missing gear was really, really eye-opening, you know? There was no Jake brake or engine break, and you just downshifted and prayed.”
Later in life, after college and training to be a Chef, Steve’s professional driving career involved everything from construction to landscaping, and he worked for both small and large companies before getting his own authority around 2010. His career options shifted again when his father passed away, and he decided to sell everything and go back to work for someone else. Change came again for Steve in 2022 when he bought his own truck. “2023 was my first full year under my own authority again, Blue Eyes Transportation, LLC. I always wanted to do Wreaths Across America when I worked for one of the larger companies that participated, but they always chose veterans to do those loads. I’m not a military veteran, but I did do community service for about 20 years as a volunteer firefighter and EMS. Wreaths Across America reminds me of the old driving industry where each driver really looked out for each other. I mean, this year, I moved a guy’s trailer for him because he didn’t have the time left, and I could. It’s like that. You know, people at Wreaths Across America say, ‘We couldn’t do this without the drivers,’ but you know, the volunteers are incredible, too. They’re helping us with a place to eat and do our laundry, and they’re helping us at the delivery stops. There’s just a lot of people involved who look out for each other. All those volunteers are showing up to put those wreaths on people's graves, and they do it to show honor and respect for people who have fallen to protect our country. I’m free to do what I do today because of those who have fought for my freedom. It’s just not like that in a lot of other countries.”
When it came to getting the job done for Wreaths Across America, Steve’s patriotism and enthusiasm shone through. One of his runs was to a cross dock in Mississippi. His second run involved seventeen or eighteen wreath deliveries to participating locations. “I met some very nice people who were very helpful, and I got a few strange looks from people wondering why I was bringing a tractor-trailer truck into their small neighborhood, but I made it happen.”
Steve is not alone in his commitment to the mission, and his sentiment reflects the views of many people involved with the organization. As soon as one National Wreaths Across America Day is concluded, volunteers are fired up and ready to begin again. “It’s just amazing, and I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. When you see a community support you as a truck driver, and they see the truck drivers supporting our veterans. It’s something else, and it’s only eleven months away.”
Thank you, Steve, for recognizing the work and dedication it takes to make the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach successful year after year. We really can’t do this without our professional drivers! We look forward to seeing you again in December!
You can hear Steve’s 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.
Do you want to get involved as a member of our honor fleet? You can get rolling in 2024 with a click or two right here.