GREENFIELD — It was not just a duty, but an honor, for police and firefighters to accompany the semitrailer into Greenfield.
The Wal-Mart truck, carrying some 16,000 wreaths destined for graves at the Indiana State Soldiers Home Cemetery in Lafayette, was flanked by two Greenfield Fire Department engines from the interstate to the Greenfield Sam’s Club Distribution Center.
The first-responders wanted to accompany the truck because of its worthy mission, said Greenfield Police Department Capt. Brian Guinn.
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The truck, driven by Ricky Miller, was one of six Wal-Mart trucks convoys traveling to soldiers’ cemeteries this week across the United States with Wreaths Across America, an organization that lays wreaths at the graves of soldiers in more than 1,000 locations across the country.
Wreaths Across America is an extension of the Arlington Wreath Project, which started in 1992 with the donation and laying of 5,000 wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery by Morrill Worcester of the Worcester Wreath Co. in Harrington, Maine, said Steve Todd, operations manager of the Greenfield distribution center of Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart’s parent company, during a short ceremony on Wednesday.
The Wreaths Across America truck made a stop in Greenfield because Wal-Mart has participated in the annual event for the past nine years, Todd said. Wal-Mart trucks this year will haul more than 85,000 wreaths to state and national veterans cemeteries, making 40 stops at transportation offices and distribution centers, he said.
This is the second year Greenfield’s distribution center has been a stop for the convoy, Todd said; the business is one of two Sam’s Club distribution centers given the distinction, he added.
Miller said his 240-mile journey began in Grove City, Ohio, and stopped in Greenfield, then Greencastle, before ending at the Lafayette cemetery.
“These stops are a very sentimental, touching thing,” Miller said, adding that he’s proud to be a part of the Wal-Mart team that supports Wreaths Across America.
Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell spoke during the wreath-passing ceremony at the distribution center, noting that the sacrifices of America’s armed forces should be commended whenever possible.
Guinn said the distribution center asked police and firefighters to attend the ceremony, which included a lunch donated by Firehouse Subs in Greenfield.
“We provide an escort when the truck arrives and leaves to show our support for the military and what (Sam’s Club) is doing,” he said.