Wreaths Across America's "Trucking Tributes" Presents Poland Spring
Wreaths Across America is not a government-funded program. When citizens sponsor a $15.00 veteran’s wreath it has to make it from Downeast, Maine to its destination of a veteran’s headstone somewhere across this great nation, or overseas. Just as the country would grind to a stop without our transportation industry Wreaths Across America would not be able to honor millions of veterans every December without its support.
Our trucking partners specifically are selfless, compassionate, and deeply patriotic. Trucking Tributes calls attention to their service and dedication to the mission to remember, honor and teach.
Poland Spring, under Nestle Waters, is the number one spring-water brand in North America according to Chris Haynes, Logistics Manager for Poland Spring.
“We’re very proud of that, and part of what makes Poland Spring so great is all of the water sources for Poland Spring come from Maine,” Chris explains. “We have three bottling facilities in the state of Maine, and a key part of the operation is our tanker fleet or spring-haul team.”
Scott Edwards is one of those spring-haul team members for Poland Spring. He participated in the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery in 2014 as a member of the Honor Fleet, and he shared the experience with his then 11-year-old son Colin.
“It’s a very humbling experience,” Scott shared. “You experience many different things throughout the week with an overwhelming sense of pride and appreciation for the sacrifices that were made by hundreds of thousands of men and women for this country. My son and I got to know the people on the escort and some of these people were Gold Star families.”
Scott’s son shared the journey along the way with his classmates and followed up the trip with this essay:
“Hi! My name is Colin Edwards and I am 11 years old and in the sixth grade at Harrison Elementary School in Maine. My Dad, Scott, is a driver for Poland Spring. Usually, he drives a tanker of water from the spring to the bottling plant but last week he took me with him on a special driving assignment. My dad had been chosen to drive a 53-ft. tractor-trailer full of balsam wreaths in the Wreaths Across America convoy, all the way from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. Not only was I excited about the chance to ride in the truck alongside my dad but out of the 10 other trucks in the convoy, the Poland Spring truck was picked to be first!
Our trip took a little more than five days. We left Maine on Monday and got to Washington on Saturday, December 13, which was National Wreaths Across America Day.
Along the way, the trucks in the convoy stopped at schools and we got out and heard speeches. The schools were decorated with American flags and when we drove down the road, people would wave small flags and hold their hands over their hearts. It felt good to see so much patriotism and to know that we were going to honor our military veterans.
The convoy had its very own police escort. The state troopers always had their lights on, but not their sirens. The lights looked really cool at night. There were two Maine state troopers, one Westbrook (ME) police car and usually 10 state troopers from the state that we were in. The state police in Massachusetts had incredible coverage and cleared the highway while we were going through. They only shut roads down for the President or us!
On Tuesday, while driving into New Jersey, the state police shut down the highways for the convoy. It was not long until we reached the Statue of Liberty. To go through security, we had to take off everything except pants and t-shirt. We passed security and made our way to the ship. Right next to the Statue of Liberty is Ellis Island. That was really cool. We listened to a few speeches on Ellis Island, including one by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Because of security issues, we couldn’t go to the Statue of Liberty but we got some really good pictures. We also visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel, New Jersey.
Then, it was on to Washington, D.C. Some things we saw on our way to Arlington National Cemetery were Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and the Jefferson Memorial, which were really neat but the view as we drove into Arlington was unforgettable., More than 30,000 people and volunteers stood on the side of the road and waved and cheered. It is hard not to cry when you pull into Arlington because in every direction there are gravestones as far as you can see. You know that each stone represents someone who has made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
In less than 45 minutes, volunteers unloaded the 3,600 wreaths we had brought all the way from Maine. I placed my wreath on the grave of a man who was involved in the Korean War, the Vietnam War and World War II. My Dad, Scott, put his wreath on a soldier’s grave who served in the Korean War.
I also got to honor Mr. Sullivan’s son, by standing by his grave and thanking him. Mr. Sullivan rode on the bus that brought the Gold Star families. That was really nice because I had talked to Mr. Sullivan a lot during the trip and I finally got to meet his son.
The trip with my Dad to Washington, D.C. as part of Wreaths Across America was something special. . I was glad I was able to put a wreath on a veteran’s grave, and to know that even if they didn’t have family, they were remembered and thanked for their sacrifice. This trip was truly one that I will never forget and I am so thankful to have been able to experience it with my Dad.
Poland Spring Water Company was a 2014 participant in the Wreaths Across America™ (WAA) truck caravan delivering 130,000 balsam wreaths from Maine to Washington D.C. to lay on military graves at Arlington National Cemetery.
Harrison, Maine resident Scott Edwards, a 20-year Poland Spring employee, was chosen the driver. Edwards, a tanker driver with an astounding 1 million miles of safe driving under his belt, was in the news recently when he stopped and contributed the water in his tanker to firefighters who were battling an early morning house fire.
Edwards was accompanied by his 11-year-old son, Colin. In 2013, the company’s first year as a participant, Poland Spring customized and branded a 53-ft. tractor-trailer to depict the partnership and mission of WAA and was chosen to be part of the official caravan to D.C. by WAA. The WAA caravan left Maine on Monday, December 8, arriving in Washington D.C. on December 13, this year’s National Wreath Laying Day.”
Scott shares the sentiment of other Honor Fleet drivers that his load of veterans’ wreaths was the most precious cargo he’d delivered in his career as a professional driver. Scott has not served in the military personally but has family members who have.
Chris Haynes did serve in the United States Marine Corps, active duty from 1992-1996 with a MOS of Aviation Ordinance.
Trucking Tribute says thank you to Scott, Colin, Chris and the entire Poland Spring team for the support they have shown Wreaths Across America over the past six years. You can hear the complete interview with Scott and Chris on “Trucking Tributes” Tuesday at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM exclusively on www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/radio