Contributing author Joey Slaughter is the owner of Blue Ridge Transport, LLC. A Ringgold, VA based carrier. Joey started his company in 2010 after serving time as an unhappy employee with a local trucking company. The time spent there was not fun but, in hindsight, was a turning point that propelled Joey into the wonderful world of being an entrepreneur. Please visit JoeySlaughter.net for more insightful blogging.
Wreaths Across America 2014 was another outstanding success. There were well over 200 loads going all over the U.S. to approximately 900 veteran cemeteries, not to mention 60 loads that went to Arlington. This year was Arlington National Cemetery’s 150th Anniversary and with the exception of a few Jewish graves, every grave had a beautiful Christmas wreath placed upon it.
I’ve been asked before, “what was your most memorable load?” That used to be a tough question to answer, but not anymore as this load of honor to Arlington National Cemetery easily becomes my most memorable load and will probably stay that way.
Firstly, I want to thank LEI Transport, from Danville, VA for the use of a trailer at no cost to me to retrieve the wreaths. I was able to book a load from Winston Salem, NC to Winthrop, ME about 150 miles from Columbia Falls, ME where Worcester Wreath Co is located. The weather cooperated as Maine got snow the day before I got up there and about 9 inches a couple of days after I left.
After loading up on Maine, I began the 750 mile journey to Arlington. There was a small convoy of trucks well ahead of me that made stops along the way, educating young people and interacting with veteran’s groups. This was the official Wreaths Across America convoy that was led by the Patriot Guard Riders. I trucked into Maryland all by myself to one of the nearest truck washes to Arlington in order to wash the salt off the truck and prepare it for the ceremony. Most of the other 60 trucks had the same idea and we were staged in Maryland for the final push down. We left Friday morning and convoyed through Baltimore and around Washington D.C. to the gates of Arlington to be set up for Saturday.
Saturday, and estimated 35,000 volunteers came out to help place wreaths on the graves. I placed a few wreaths myself and in the process became emotional as I saw the thousands of people honoring the quiet graves. I can only imagine the heroic lives that are represented on some of those headstones. The ceremony began at 9:30 am and by 11 am, it was all over! After the event, I just stood in awe of the beauty that the Christmas wreaths brought to those thousands of straight lined headstones stretching as far as the eye could see.