Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents John Westbrook and First Class Moving Systems

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 and Sirius XM, Channel 146, Road Dog Trucking.

It was forty years ago that a friend asked John to help him unload his truck. His friend was a professional driver for Mayflower at the time. “I went and helped him unload and then rode in the truck with him for maybe three or four hours, and he asked me what I thought about driving, and I said, well, it’s a good life for a single man,” John chuckled. “Lo and behold, a year later, I was single. Forty years later, I’m still at it.”

Like so many of our drivers, John was recruited to join the mission to remember, honor, and teach by fellow driver in the moving and storage industry, Steve Miser. “I’m that generation that actually lived in peace,” John explained his willingness to haul veterans’ wreaths. “I was too young for Vietnam and too old for Desert Storm. This was something small that I could do to give back to so many who have given so much. I appreciate the sacrifices they’ve made.”

Again, like so many of the drivers who participate, John explains why they want to participate every year. “The first year you do it, [Wreath-laying], it really chokes you up. It gets you pretty good. It’s heart-warming, but it’s also gut-wrenching. Some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet are involved with this.”

John delivers wreaths to three participating locations in Florida. He explained the process in his first year. “I had some friends that were doing it as well at the time, and we all met up at Walmart in the DC area, and we convoyed up to Columbia Falls, Maine together. As the movers always do, we moved to the back of the dirt parking lot up there and loaded our own ride. One truck moved in, and we all started loading it. We didn’t have appointments to load like freight haulers do. I’ve had the opportunity to do it three years in a row, and every year, it seems to evolve for the better. I’m planning on doing it this year, too.”

One of John’s first deliveries was to two volunteers on the ground waiting in a truck. “They can’t fit the semi into these small cemeteries,” John explains. “So, they took the wreaths from my truck into the cemetery, and then I made my second drop the same day at another participating location. They got about eighty boxes, and then my last load was on Saturday. We had a live unload after their services to honor and remember. People lined up at the trailer, and we started handing out the wreaths, and they placed the wreaths on the graves. That’s when you understand what the sacrifice is for us to live the way we live. It really makes you feel good inside. You meet so many interesting people, and you hear their stories. We have a Wreaths Across America flag we put up on the trailer, and people want to have their picture taken with it to remember their day.”

Thank you, John Westbrook, and First Class Moving Systems out of Tampa, Florida for helping to support the mission to remember, honor, and teach.

If you’d like to join the Wreaths Across America Honor Fleet, you can get started with a click right here!

You can hear more with John on Trucking Tributes, listened to every Truckin’ Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM EST on Wreaths Across America Radio and Wednesday 8:30 AM EST, on Sirius XM Channel 146, Road Dog Trucking Radio.

Discover the Trucking Tributes archive playlist on Soundcloud.com