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Wreaths Across America exhibit touring Michigan; local trucking company helps out with mission

Posted at 5:31 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-28 12:42:30-04

TAYLOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — Memorial Day weekend is here, and all week we've recognized the day of commemoration. Right now, an organization that honors fallen service members nationwide is in metro Detroit with a traveling exhibit.

Wreaths Across America also partners with trucking companies to deliver wreaths to gravesites of men and women who've made the ultimate sacrifice.

"Remember, honor, teach" is the organization's mission statement.

Every December, hundreds upon hundreds of loads of wreaths are moved across the country thanks to trucking companies that do so for free. That includes Load One Transportation and Logistics in Taylor.

The company picks their share of wreaths up in the state of Maine and delivers them to military cemeteries to be placed on the graves of fallen service members.

John Elliot, CEO of Load One tells 7 Action News, “It’s a very special moving thing to watch Arlington transform within hours of having no wreaths to being blanketed and to see a sea of volunteers and that’s incredibly moving, especially for the families that have lost someone and had given the ultimate sacrifice like that.”

He said the company donated transportation, time, and fuel to Wreaths Across America for nearly 15 years now.

“Once one of our drivers is part of this, they always want to do it every year," Elliot said.

He said it hits home for him because he’s a veteran himself. So is retired Load One employee and marine David "Gator" Gadigian.

“Monday will be our most expensive. Okay? Not in terms of price of food, of gas, of travel (or) any of that. It’s for lives that people laid down, again, so we have the freedom to do what we wanna do," he explained.

That's what Wreaths Across America’s mobile education exhibit seeks to inform the public about.

Stefan Brann, driver ambassador for Wreaths Across America said, “We have the absolute best job. We get to hang out with veterans every day.”

In the interactive exhibit, Brann said visitors can watch an 8.5-minute video and learn about the organization's mission. Vietnam veterans can receive a welcome home pinning and sign the board. He said, as of 2021, nearly 2.45 million wreaths have been hauled since 1992.

“(People) come off of here pretty inspired to get involved with the organization, either by sponsoring a wreath or volunteering with us," Brann explained.

If you’d like to see the mobile unit, it’s making stops at these Michigan locations in the coming days:

FLINT
Saturday, May 28
Time: 5-9:30 p.m.
Matrix Expedited Service, 4268 Holiday Dr.

PORT HURON
Monday, May 30
Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Karreer-Simpson Funeral Home, 1720 Elk St.

GRAND BLANC
Tuesday, May 31
Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Creasey Bicentennial Park, 1505 E. Grand Blanc Rd.

LANSING
Thursday, June 2
Meijer Supercenters (private event for employees)

BRIGHTON
Saturday, June 4
Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
200 E. Grand River Ave.

GRAND RAPIDS
Sunday, June 5
Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2190 E. Beltline Ave. NE

HOLLAND
Monday, June 6
Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
380 Chicago Ave. (parking lot between Russ’ and West Michigan Bike)

BOYNE CITY
Tuesday, June 7
Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Veterans Park, 201 N. Lake St.