Trucking Info: Wreaths Across America Hits Milestone at Arlington

December 29, 2014

For the first year in its history, Wreaths Across America received enough money and volunteer help to place a wreath at each of the 230,000 graves at the Arlington National Cemetery.

Including the wreaths at Arlington, there were a total of 720,000 wreaths distributed nationwide through the Wreaths Across America program with nearly 300 trucks providing transportation for them.

The TCA coordinated logistics for the volunteering trucking companies and truck drivers who participated. Altogether, there were nearly 50,000 volunteers on hand to help place wreaths. They were delivered to several veteran’s cemeteries nationwide on Dec. 13, which was this year’s Wreath’s Across America Day.

The wreath laying efforts this year were highlighted in a MSNBC special called Taking the Hill. The program not only outlined the logistics of the wreath laying operation but touched on the industry’s Trucking Moves America Forward, message.

“It was so impressive to see 70 tractor trailers there and to realize that trucking made it happen,” said Wendy Hamilton, the TCA’s communications co-chair. “It made me so proud to be a part of this industry.”

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Trucking Moves America Forward Highlights Trucking’s Critical Role in Congressional and Military Tributes

[December 22, 2014] – Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF) highlighted today trucking’s significant role in two important national events, the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree lighting and Wreath’s Across America tributes.

“Without the trucking industry, these special holiday events would not be possible,” said Kevin Burch, TMAF co-chair and president of Jet Express. “TMAF wants to share how important a role trucking not only plays in our everyday lives, but especially how trucking plays a role in ensuring these events happen for all of us to enjoy.”

The trucking industry was the sole mode of transportation for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which traveled from Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest to the west front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Two specially-made Kenworth trucks carried both the 88-foot white spruce and thousands of handmade ornaments directly from the spot where the tree was cut down in Minnesota to the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Three professional truck drivers were given the honor of driving both trucks through several cities and towns along the way to Washington, D.C.

The tree arrived in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 21 and was lit on Dec. 2, 2014. Members of Congress, including Speaker of the House John A. Boehner gathered at the ceremony, and the tree was officially lit by 10-year-old Aaron Urban who was given the honor as part of fulfilling his Make-A-Wish.

Trucking also played a major role in fulfilling the mission of Wreaths Across America, which places wreaths at the headstones of fallen veterans at 1034 veteran cemeteries across the country and Arlington National Cemetery. Across the country, 283 truckloads made it possible for 720,000 wreaths to be placed at the headstones of fallen veterans.

A convoy of 67 trucks delivered wreaths directly from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery where 50,000 volunteers covered the headstones of all 230,000 veterans at Arlington National Cemetery. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery, and it was the first year that Wreaths Across America was able to cover every headstone in Arlington.

Trucking Moves America Forward has captured and created a video to highlight the essentiality of trucking in these major commemoration events, the importance of trucking to the country, and the millions of trucking professionals who are dedicated to the trucking industry.

To view TMAF’s video documenting these two events, visit


The New York Times: Trucker Buddy International Makes Pen Pals of Students and Truckers


DEC. 4, 2014

It’s not uncommon for adults to criticize school-age children over their lack of geographical knowledge.

A nonprofit group helping to solve that problem is Trucker Buddy International, which in 1992 began linking long-haul truck drivers, who tend to have a fairly thorough knowledge of the nation’s roads and cities, with classrooms around the country.

Essentially, it’s a pen-pal program, with teachers selecting how the drivers will communicate with their classes, said Randy Schwartzenburg, the organization’s executive director. Some choose email, some prefer letters and others like truckers to send postcards from the places they visit. A few truckers set up blogs.

“Teachers love the program because each postcard or email is an instant geography, math, history, social studies and reading lesson,” Mr. Schwartzenburg said in an email, adding that about 2,100 drivers, 2,300 teachers and nearly 60,000 students participate in the program in all of the contiguous 48 states, as well as in Canada and parts of Europe.

The program challenges drivers to learn more about the places they go and transforms run-of-the-mill things like calculating driving time and distance into lessons for elementary school children. There’s also the thrill of bringing to life the landscape that slides by their windshields day in and day out.

“This program reaches way beyond a pen and paper,” said Fred Sweetwood, who has been driving trucks for nearly 40 years and has been involved with Trucker Buddy for 11. “It paints the Rockies, the bitter cold of North Dakota and the devastation of Oklahoma City and Katrina. It brings America to the classroom through the eyes of a truck driver.”

Truckers like Mr. Sweetwood and K.?C. Brau, who has been driving for 28 years, can form long relationships with the teachers whose classes they exchange letters with.

“To date, I estimate approximately 350 students have passed though classes I have shared with,” Mr. Brau said. “I have seen several teachers retire and a couple more move into other positions in the schools.”

Caroline Walradt, a second-grade teacher at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, a private school in Princeton, N.J., said she had been working with Mr. Brau for about nine years.

“My students gain in many ways,” she said. “First, they learn a lot about the value that truck drivers provide to us by moving goods across the country. Second, they feel they have a friend in K.?C., who writes letters and sends postcards every week without fail.”

Ms. Walradt says her students are enthusiastic about receiving letters from him.

“We have a map of the United States in the room, and we mark each state as he visits it,” she said. In addition to his letters, Mr. Brau sends pictures of the places he visits so students can get a sense of the variety of places around the country.


Caroline Walradt, a second-grade teacher at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart in Princeton, N.J., keeps a special map displayed in her classroom so students can track their trucker buddy. Credit Caroline Walradt
“Not only are they learning about geography, but a reason knowing geography is important,” Ms. Walradt said.

Linda Carson, a fifth-grade teacher at Marais des Cygnes Valley Elementary, in Melvern, Kan., said she connected with Mr. Sweetwood, who drives trucks for the Walmart distribution center nearby, about 11 years ago. She has been teaching there for 38 years.

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“Trucker Buddy Fred shares stories, pictures and highlights of his trucking trips as well as personal vacations,” she said. “With this wealth of information, we connect with other academic subjects such as social studies, science, math and reading.”

There are challenges, too, Ms. Walradt said. But that was mostly when she first got into the program and couldn’t find a trucker who would send letters once a week.

“It took me a few tries before I found K.?C.,” she said.

With regular correspondence, a sort of community can develop among the truckers, the teachers and the students.

“Fred will attend as many events as possible to show the students he cares about them,” Ms. Carson said. “Fred and his lovely wife, Sandy, are also very generous in donating to our annual school carnival. Their donation helps supplement our reading and math programs.”

Mr. Sweetwood said that many students regularly wrote letters and forged friendships with drivers. He remembers one letter he received from a student this year.

“One little girl started the year telling me her dad was dying with brain cancer,” he said. “I mean, wow, I’m just a truck driver, but sometimes they just need someone to listen.”

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TXTA Foundation Pledges $50,000 to Trucking Moves America Forward

Washington, DC – [December 2, 2014] – Today, the Texas Trucking Association Foundation announced a $50,000 financial contribution to Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF) over the next five years.

Trustees voted on the proposal to support Trucking Moves America Forward in November and believe the campaign fits seamlessly with their mission. This move to educate the public and promote trucking comes on the heels of the release of the 2015/2016 Foundation Scholarship applications.

“Trucking Moves America Forward is an educational tool that will not only further the understanding of our industry, but will also ignite a passion in others for what we do,” said TXTA President and CEO John D. Esparza. “Our country is defined by the hard working men and women who travel our highways and byways delivering goods. We want to help spread that good message of safety and critical support.”

TMAF – launched in March at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY – is an industry-wide image and internal education initiative informing policy makers, motorists and the public about the benefits of the trucking industry to help build a groundswell of political and grassroots support necessary to strengthen and grow the industry.

“A primary goal of Trucking Moves America Forward is to educate the public, as well as, our policymakers on the importance of trucking to our nation,” said Kevin Burch, TMAF vice chair and president of Jet Express. “TMAF’s partnership with the Texas Trucking Association Foundation is just another way to spread our message. We are very appreciative to have the support of one of the largest trucking associations in the country behind the TMAF movement.”

TMAF has been bolstered by significant financial contributions from the Allied Committee for the Trucking Industry (ATA), Old Dominion Freight Lines, Great West Casualty Company, Pilot Flying J, Trucking Associations Executive Council and Jack Cooper Transport. TMAF has also received support from industry leaders such as National Tank Truck Carriers, National Auto Dealers Association and Truckload Carriers Association, and in-kind donations from Randall-Reilly, Transport Topics, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Overdrive Magazine, Commercial Carrier Journal and Heavy Duty Trucking.

To join the movement, go to


About the Texas Trucking Association Foundation

The TXTA Foundation is the educational arm of the Texas Trucking Association, which was founded in 1932 and is based in Austin, Texas.
Texas Trucking Association Foundation, founded in 1978, is charged with funding educational opportunities and promoting Texas trucking. Since 1994, the foundation has awarded 331 scholarships totaling $921,800 to 262 individuals, representing 111 technical school, colleges and universities.
The TXTA Foundation has given more than a million dollars in educational assistance to hundreds of students pursuing degrees from technical colleges to post graduate institutions. Just last year, the foundation awarded $108,500 to 30 deserving students. These students, all associated with Texas trucking through TXTA member companies, attend colleges across the nation and many find their way back to the trucking industry after graduation.
To be eligible, applicants must be an employee of a TXTA member company or be the dependent or grandchild of a TXTA member company, and be enrolled full-time (12 hours for undergraduate degrees, 9 hours for graduate degrees). AN online application can be found on the TXTA website at or
Photo available upon request.


TXTA President and CEO John D. Esparza presents a check from the Texas Trucking Association Foundation to Trucking Moves America Forward.

About Trucking Moves America Forward

Trucking Moves America Forward is a long-term industry-wide movement to create a positive image for the industry, to ensure that policymakers and the public understand the importance of the trucking industry to the nation’s economy, and to build the political and grassroots support necessary to strengthen and grow the industry in the future. To learn more, go to, Facebook (, or follow @TruckingFWD on Twitter.

Founding members of the movement include: ACT1, Allison Transmission, American Trucking Associations (ATA), Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, Bridgestone Commercial Solutions, Bulldog Hiway Express, Castrol Heavy Duty Lubricants, Combined Transport, Inc., Cummins Inc., Daimler Trucks North America, Dana Holding Corporation, Detroit Diesel Corporation, Eaton Corporation – Roadranger, GE Capital, Goodyear, Great West Casualty Company, Hahn Transportation, Inc., Hendrickson, International, J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc., Jet Express, Inc., Kenworth Truck Company, Longistics, Love’s Travel Stops, Mack Trucks, Inc., Meritor, Michelin, Motor Carrier Service, Inc., Old Dominion Freight Lines, Omnitracs Inc., Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), Pegasus, Peterbilt Motors Company, Pilot Flying J, Randall Reilly, Tennant Truck Lines, Tennessee Express, Inc., TransTech, Trucking Associations Executive Council, Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), TRW and Volvo Trucks.