GREENFIELD — A Walmart tractor trailer pulled into the Sam’s Club Distribution Center on Wednesday around lunchtime.
It’s certainly not unusual for trucks to enter and exit the business on Muskegon Drive, but this truck was distinguished by the words “Wreaths Across America” emblazoned along its trailer. And as it left Greenfield, the truck was given a police and fire escort from Muskegon Drive onto Interstate 70.
Every December, thousands of wreaths are escorted from Columbia Falls, Maine to Arlington National Cemetery for National Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 15. The escort, made up of tractor trailers, public safety officials, local media and supporters, makes dozens of stops along the way at community events, support rallies and school assemblies. The truck stopping in Greenfield was one of 16 Walmart donated to the effort to honor veterans buried in some 1,220 cemeteries worldwide.
Walmart 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, said Steve Todd, the distribution center’s operations manager. Walmart donated some $150,000 toward the effort this year.
This is the third 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.
“It brings attention to the community with respect to our fallen veterans,” he said. “It’s about honoring them for what they’ve done and their service to our country.”
Driver Mike Baughman drove from Ohio before stopping in Hancock County; his last stop on Wednesday was in Greencastle. The wreaths he transported were destined to be laid Friday at the Danville National Cemetery in Danville, Illinois, he said.
Honoring veterans is something meaningful that Greenfield first-responders are proud to promote, said Greenfield Police Department chief Jeff Rasche.
“For us to just be a very small part of it is very humbling for us,” he said. “I’m very honored to be here today.”
Wreaths Across America started in 2008 as an extension of the Arlington Wreath Project, which began 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.
The laying of the wreaths is a small way the public can honor their sacrifice and celebrate their service to their country and community, said Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell.
“This is a ceremony we wouldn’t want to miss,” Fewell said. “We’re just proud to be a part of it.”