It’s a huge honor to be Schneider’s 2016 Ride of Pride driver, and today I’m excited to reflect back on one of the highlights during my yearlong adventure: Wreaths Across America 2016 (December 10-17).
I encourage you to read the account below first and then watch me describe more about the experience on Schneider’s first Facebook Live (embedded below).
It was the 25th anniversary of Wreaths Across America, which started as a simple family tradition placing a few thousand wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. Now, it’s a nationwide tribute to fallen military veterans, placing 1.2 million wreaths on veterans’ graves at over 1,200 locations. Together, we remember our fallen veterans, honor those who serve and teach our children the value of freedom.
I had the privilege of being in the Maine-to-Washington, D.C. convoy of of trucks carrying the wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery — with the honor of leading the trucks for the second half of the second day. The convoy stretched 5.5 miles at its longest point, including police escorts, Gold Star families, Blue Star veterans and volunteers.
As I described more in Schneider’s first Facebook Live video (see below), it was quite a scene to behold: Hundreds of people lining the roads waving flags, firetrucks extending flags over the road with ladders and ceremonies in various cities along the route. Every stop was unique and special.
Arlington was just as amazing. Weather tried to dampen spirits, but ultimately, with the help of 44,000 volunteers, we went from no wreaths placed to 250,000 veteran graves covered with wreaths in 45 minutes. Every wreath was donated. Every veteran’s name was mentioned. It really honored those who have fallen and served.
I can join with Schneider’s previous Ride of Pride drivers (2015 driver Jay Hull’s story, 2013 driver Chuck Ceccacci’s story) in saying that it was a tremendous honor to participate, and I will be involved in Wreaths Across America for the rest of my life.
Watch the Facebook Live below and check out the Wreaths Across America photos on the Ride of Pride Facebook page.