Wreaths Across America's "Trucking Tributes" Presents Hannaford

Every year, Wreaths Across America marvels at how the transportation industry steps up to support the mission to remember, honor and teach. It’s rewarding to share their stories with you as we work toward National Wreaths Across America Day, Saturday, Dec.15, 2018. The effort is immense and falls during the busiest time of the year for the industry, but, time and time again they tell us working with Wreaths Across America is one of the most rewarding ways to give back to military veterans and their families.

“The Hannaford drivers, some of whom are veterans themselves, are very passionate about their participation,” explains Sherri Stevens, Supervisor of Community Relations for Hannaford Supermarkets. “If it’s important to our associates, then it’s important to us and the excitement we feel throughout our entire organization working with Wreaths Across America is heartwarming. We deliver groceries to our stores every day, and that’s hugely important to keeping our communities nourished, but, putting those wreaths on our trailers and driving them to the destinations they’re headed for, including Arlington National Cemetery feels like probably the most important product we ever put on our trailers.”

Lead Driver and Special Events Coordinator for Hannaford Transportation, Dick Brown (“Brownie”) says Hannaford Transportation provides three rigs and drivers for the Wreaths Across America Honor Fleet with one truck participating in the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery and the other loads going to destinations in Florida and South Carolina. It’s his job to coordinate all of the transportation logistics for each of the drivers and their precious cargo. So how does he decide which drivers will haul the gift of America’s respect?

“We have a lottery system of sorts,” Brownie describes the process. “We put a sign-up sheet in the driver’s room every fall, but, if they’re a military veteran, we put their name into the drawing twice, so they have a better chance of being selected.”

That seems fair to us!

Brownie went on to share a story that describes just how personal the job becomes for the Hannaford drivers and how the veterans’ wreath is a catalyst for meaningful connections.

“A lot of people think these trucks only go to Arlington but the driver last year who wound up in Florida called me once he got his truck unloaded and said, ‘Hey, these people want me to stay down here until Saturday so I can be a part of their parade and wreath-laying ceremony, is that alright?’ and his supervisor approved it. The driver who went to South Carolina said the people there were so nice that he’s planning a vacation so he and his wife can go down and help them this year.”

Hannaford is delighted this year to use their newly wrapped trailers to transport the veterans’ wreaths, and they’ve additionally donated food and snacks for the “Trucker’s Lounge” in Maine where drivers enjoy some downtime re-kindling friendships and touring the Wreaths Across America Museum before leaving with their loads.

Special thanks to Hannaford Supermarkets and Transportation for your support.

You can hear more about our transportation partners in our Trucking Tributes feature on Tuesdays at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM EST on www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/radio.