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March 29, 2015 9:00 PM, EDT

Truckers Earn Praise at MATS From Wreaths Across America

Karen, Rob Worcester by Gary Kicinski/Transport Topics
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Many people come to the Mid-America Trucking Show each year to show off their products and to try to earn truckers’ business.

Karen and Rob Worcester of Wreaths Across America came here for a different reason. They came to personally thank drivers.

Without volunteer truck drivers and their companies, WAA’s mission to “remember, honor, teach” and place wreaths on gravestones of fallen veterans each December would be impossible to accomplish.

“There are a lot of drivers working booths here, and it’s important for us to say thank you to them,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of WAA.

Karen and her son, Rob, a volunteer transportation and logistics coordinator for WAA, came to visit with as many of the 169 trucking companies who are involved with the mission as they could. 

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Their family-owned business, the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, launched the Arlington National Cemetery effort in 1992 as the Arlington Wreath Project. As the effort expanded each year, the company and others formed the nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America.

In 2014, Rob Worcester said, WAA reached a milestone when volunteers placed a wreath at each of the 230,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. Simultaneously, wreaths were placed at more than 1,000 cemeteries and monuments in every state as part of the program, for a total of 720,000 wreaths laid.

Rob Worcester is a volunteer transportation and logistics coordinator for WAA. He said it takes about six weeks to assemble the wreaths, and another week to load them onto trucks. Last year, the trucking industry delivered 283 truckloads of wreaths to memorial sites around the country.

Karen Worcester said she was impressed by the response she was getting from drivers she talked to at MATS. “Some drivers can tell us as much about WAA as I can,” she said.

Rob Worcester said drivers enjoy volunteering for WAA because it gives them a tangible way to honor those who serve our country. “Drivers will talk to other drivers, they’ll knock on the dispatch door, and they’ll say, ‘Hey, you need to get involved in this,’ ” he said.

This year’s event will take place on Dec. 12. Individuals and organizations can participate by donating, sponsoring a wreath, or even coordinating a wreath-laying ceremony in their own town. WreathsAcrossAmerica.org has details on ways to volunteer.