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, with over 3,700 participating locations and growing, 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 and what motivates them to serve and succeed in the “Trucking Tributes” feature online and on Wreaths Across America Radio.
The past few weeks during the Wreaths Across America Radio Morning Show, Michael W. Hale has been chatting with professional drivers who work for Perdue Farms, a 103-year company based in Salisbury, Maryland, showcasing both their military service and experience in the trucking industry working for the family-owned U.S. Food and agriculture business. Perdue was started in 1920 by Arthur Perdue, and today Jim Perdue is at the helm as the company Chairman, with fourth-generation family members working throughout the company’s two operating divisions. You can listen to those driver interviews here.
“I love to hire veterans,” Jim Perdue shared. “They’re very mature people who show respect. They’re just a different kind of employee, and you don’t have to work to develop them because their skills are already built in.” Jim continued to share his company’s commitment to their associates. “Our job as a company is to give our associates the ability to express themselves, and our Veterans Associate Resource Group and the Wreaths Across America project is an excellent example. Perdue Farm employs seven hundred veterans, and they came to us looking to start this group, and we said basically, what do you need?”
Perdue Farms started supporting the Wreaths Across America mission in 2008. Jim explained the joy he receives watching his associates in action serving the greater community good. “To see them take over an event is just wonderful to witness. It’s about teamwork. Somebody asked the other day how we assign our drivers for Wreaths Across America, and we don’t. They volunteer, and the drivers take it on their own, as usual, to get coordinated with our support to deliver the Wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery, the Naval Academy and a lot of local cemeteries. We have a big event here in Salisbury at our veteran’s memorial, where the drivers conduct the entire ceremony. It’s incredible to see their devotion and commitment to veterans across America. I don’t think you can do enough to thank our veterans for what they do keeping our country safe. They sacrifice time from their families to serve, and we can’t do enough. We take every chance we can get to make sure we recognize that sacrifice and service they have committed to this country.”
Perdue Farms associates also support the Special Olympics Delaware Truck Convoy and Operation Teddy Bear. “We want our associates to know that volunteering time for nonprofits inside of work time is okay,” Jim shared. “We’re in our thirty-eighth season with Operation Teddy Bear, and it really kicks off our holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. More than twenty or thirty trucks show up, and the clients at the Holly Center ride in the trucks around Salisbury, and we involve community groups, and the spouses and families decorate the trucks, and we give out prizes for the best-decorated truck.”
During Driver Appreciation Week every year, all the senior and corporate staff at Perdue Farms ride with the drivers. “We may leave at 2 AM to go to New York or wherever. It makes you more appreciative of what the drivers do and to see exactly what the job is like being a truck driver, and it makes you more appreciative.”
Wreaths Across America’s Mobile Education Exhibit and Wreaths Across America Radio will visit and broadcast from Perdue’s AgriBusiness offices on Friday, August 18, 2023 from 9 AM-Noon and then from 1-4 PM at the Corporate Office. Saturday, we’ll be joined by Perdue associates at the Wicomico County Fair, and during those two days will be officially welcoming home and pinning Vietnam veterans in the community.
You can hear more of Jim Perdue’s interview on Trucking Tributes. Trucking Tributes is listened to exclusively on Wreaths Across America Radio every Truckin’ Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern.
Thank you, Jim Perdue and all of the Perdue Farms team, for your tremendous, long-term commitment to the mission to remember, honor and teach.