SIDNEY — In their latest effort to honor veterans, Continental Express has partnered with non-profit Wreaths Across America. As part of the organization’s “Honor Fleet,” CE will haul a special load of evergreen wreaths to the memorial sites of fallen servicemen and women this weekend.
“We are truly honored to be able to take part in Wreaths Across America. I met Don (Queeney, director of Transportation at Wreaths Across America) on their coordination team at a conference this past spring. As soon as he told me about Wreaths Across America and what they stood for, I knew I wanted to be a part of it in commemorating our fallen heroes,” said Brad Gottemoeller, manager of Operations at Continental Express.
The driver behind the wreath delivery is Frank Larger, Wapakoneta resident and United States Army veteran. Larger currently drives one of Continental’s military trucks in their fleet of heroes. Each hero truck bears the company’s mission in participating in Wreaths Across America: “Support Our Troops” and “Honoring All Who Served.”
“It’s a privilege,” said Larger. “I feel more honored to do this than any award. This is serving soldiers. They say all gave some and some gave all. Well, this is for those who gave all. It’s a privilege to give back to these soldiers and their families.”
Larger knows all too well the sacrifices necessary to serve this country and the consequences that reverberate through families when a veteran does not make it home. It’s why he and Continental Express pressing pause on the busyness of the holiday season and participating in Wreaths Across America.
The wreath-laying is much more than a spirited holiday decoration, it’s a tribute to these brave Americans’ service, a means of thanks.
Nationally founded in 2007, Wreaths Across America began with Morrill Worcester, the owner of Maine-based business, Worcester Wreath Company. Inspired by a trip to Arlington National Cemetery in his youth, Worcester began donating holiday wreaths to the gravesites of fallen veterans in the early 1990s.
Today, over 2,500 memorial sites bear the wreaths of Worcester’s company. Teams of volunteers ensure the wreaths make it from where they’re grown in Maine to all 50 states and some locations abroad. Included in the team of volunteers are veterans, active service members, students and professional truck drivers.
The center of the event is National Wreaths Across America Day, celebrated Saturday, Dec. 18, this year, although many loads are already on the move.
Professional drivers are the first relay in getting the wreaths to the memorial sites. Truck drivers deliver just about everything in the United States at one point or another – be it furniture, clothes or food. Wreaths are no different – with an anticipated 2.2 million wreaths to travel across the country by the end of this month.
According to Wreaths Across America, “The trucks are responsible for carrying thousands of Veteran’s Wreaths to a growing number of participating cemeteries across the United States. These fine people make up our ‘Honor Fleet.’”
Larger’s journey is already underway – he picked up a load of fresh Christmas wreaths on his military truck in Columbia, Maine, earlier this week. Now back in Ohio, Larger has delivered at the Resthaven Memory Gardens of Avon, Ohio, and the Walnut Grove Cemetery in Columbus.
This third and final stop is scheduled for Friday in Seville, Ohio, at the Western Reserve National Cemetery. Volunteer teams will unload the wreaths and hand-lay them on the graves of veterans at each site on Saturday.