Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents Teddy Butler with ABF Freight and ATA

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.

Teddy Butler is one of those military veterans who was excited to learn he’d be representing his company, ABF Freight, and the American Trucking Association (ATA), participating as part of the Wreaths Across America honor fleet. “Everyone knows Ralph Garcia,” Teddy chuckled. “Well, Ralph showed me the ropes, and he’s going to be retiring at some point, so he showed me all the things that are done with Wreaths Across America, although I haven’t seen it all yet. He had confidence in me and basically told me, ‘Hey, you’ve got this,’ and we did alternate driving my first year. I think in every town we stopped in, people asked, “Where’s Ralph?” so I knew I was in good hands.”

Teddy served twenty-seven years in the United States Army, and he describes his experiences as life-changing. “I knew I had to do something coming out of high school, and that wasn’t going to be pro football. My brother was already in the Army at that time, and he encouraged me through basic training. I did two tours, one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, and I’m blessed to be back. I got my bachelor’s through the military and came out of the Army an E7. It’s there for the taking, and it’s what you make of it. It teaches you discipline and ethics, and you can develop skills. For me, it was a great ride.”

As a military veteran, Teddy was immediately impacted by the mission to remember, honor, and teach on the annual wreath escort to Arlington National Cemetery. “That convoy was like nothing else. It was mind-blowing. All those kids waving flags, and all the bridges decorated with American flags, all the people waving and honking their horns, it’s just so much to take in. You can take all the pictures you want, but there’s just nothing like the feeling of being a part of that convoy and just soaking it all in. It’s such an honor to do it.”

In addition to hauling America’s respect for National Wreaths Across America Day as a member of the Honor Fleet in the ATA Share the Road Truck, Teddy has tremendous responsibility as an American Trucking Associations Share the Road Professional Driver.

Teddy hopes to place a replica dog tag this year as part of the Wreaths Across America’s Remembrance Tree Program. When Teddy, or anyone else, selects and tags a tree, it becomes a living memorial. Brush from those trees is gathered in the fall to be made into the veteran’s wreath that is sponsored by citizens across the country for placement on a headstone at a participating cemetery. “The mission that WAA has, teaching kids about freedom and that it is important to remember those who have served and honor them as well, is important. When we’re not here to do those things, somebody’s got to lead that, and it’s gotta be our kids. They need to feel the peace of placing a wreath and saying the name of that soldier or a loved one. A little peace can go a long way. The beliefs and the love represented by that wreath are sometimes hard to put into words. The whole thing is phenomenal.”

Thank you, Teddy Butler, ABF Freight, and ATA for supporting the mission.

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 Teddy Butler 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 Fridays at 8 AM EST, beginning February 9, on Sirius XM Channel 146, Road Dog Trucking Radio.

Discover the Trucking Tributes archive playlist on Soundcloud.com