Oakhurst Dairy Delivers 700 Maine-Made Wreaths
PORTLAND, MAINE — December 15, 2011 — On Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, a convoy of ten tractor trailers, including the Oakhurst Dairy Wreaths Across America truck, and more than 15,000 volunteers arrived at Arlington National Cemetery to deliver and place on headstones 90,000 Maine-made wreaths for National Remembrance Day. Earlier this year, Oakhurst Dairy announced it would donate a tractor trailer specifically designed in a theme to honor this country’s heroes and a driver to support the Wreaths Across America 20th anniversary effort — the largest undertaking in the non-profit organization’s history.
Wreaths Across America’s mission is to remember, honor and teach and its goal is to instill in younger generations the importance of remembering and honoring those who have sacrificed to protect and defend this nation’s freedom. The non-profit organization, founded in 2007 by the Worcester Family, owners of the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, began laying wreaths as a means to thank veterans in 1992 when Morrill Worcester donated 5,000 evergreen wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery.
“It was an honor to support this great organization and have our truck be a part of the convoy to Arlington this year,” said Bill Bennett, president and CEO of Oakhurst Dairy. “As a long-time supporter of veterans’ initiatives over the years, we truly believe in the mission of Wreaths Across America and as a Maine company we wanted to show our support for this great Maine-born initiative.”
The Wreaths Across America convoy departed Harrington, Maine, on Dec. 4, 2011, to make the 770-mile trek to Arlington National Cemetery. Upon arrival, the caravan had grown to over 50 support vehicles, motorcycles, and vans filled with volunteers. The group stopped at more than 20 locations including schools, veterans’ homes and other organizations to hold ceremonies and talk about the importance of remembering and honoring all military veterans. In addition to the trucks in the convoy 11 tractor trailers delivered the remaining wreaths late Friday and early Saturday morning. For the Oakhurst Dairy Wreaths Across America truck, it was the first time in the company’s history one of its tractor trailers had traveled beyond New England and required much planning to secure the needed permits to be on the road in states outside of the company’s service footprint.
“To get our Wreaths Across America truck ready for the trip took enormous effort by our fleet maintenance staff, and I want to thank everyone who had a hand in creating the final truck delivered,” said David Green, Fleet & Facilities Manager, Oakhurst Dairy. “It was created with special care and attention to detail to represent our company and our employees who could not be in Arlington.”
At the wheel of the Oakhurst Dairy Wreaths Across America truck was Gorham resident Carl Phillips, accompanied by his wife, Marcena. The couple volunteered their time to make the trip on behalf of Oakhurst and safely delivered 700 of the 90,000 wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery. They also took part in the wreath laying ceremony by placing ones on the headstone of a WWI and Korean veteran.
“This was an amazing experience,” said Carl Phillips, Oakhurst Dairy Wreaths Across America driver. “The enthusiasm, dedication and camaraderie of the entire group was simply incredible and so was seeing so many individuals waiting all along the route waving the American flag and cheering us on.”
Phillips continued: “The trip was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience with so many moments that my wife and I will always remember — the amazing strength of the Gold Star Mothers telling their stories of lost family members at the various schools we visited; the view of the Statue of Liberty in the background as a wreath was placed at Liberty Park; and the incredible and awe-inspiring feeling as we drove into Arlington, parked the truck and could see the white headstones far into the distance.”
Additionally, Oakhurst Dairy employees sponsored more than 75 wreaths through a payroll deduction plan to donate to the effort. And, an Oakhurst Dairy employee traveled to Virginia with his son to meet the truck and help place wreaths.
“I attended my first Wreaths Across America event last year and knew Oakhurst Dairy had to become involved,” said Paul Connolly, Vice President Systems and Logistics and Chief Information Officer, Oakhurst Dairy. “It was a unique opportunity for two Maine family-owned companies to work together to pay tribute to our fallen heroes.”
Connolly continued: “Being at Arlington was incredible. It was a site to see the trucks roll across Memorial Bridge followed by an enormous line of other vehicles entering Arlington and then being greeted by thousands of volunteers all ready to help. The mood was solemn as everyone took special care in placing their wreath to honor the fallen soldiers. After I placed my wreath, I thought about the stories of courage that must exist for each individual buried there. It was an honor to take part in this event and Wreaths Across America did a remarkable job making it happen.”
To experience the Oakhurst Dairy Wreaths Across America journey and see pictures, please visit the Oakhurst Dairy Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Oakhurst-Dairy/120121144664698.
About Oakhurst Dairy
Oakhurst is northern New England’s truly local brand of milk. As the region’s largest independent family-owned dairy company, Oakhurst is committed to the health and wellbeing of the community and the environment. For 90 years and three generations, the Bennett family has stood behind every glass of Oakhurst milk, while contributing 10% of profits to local organizations through their Living Natural Goodness program to support healthy kids and a healthy environment – just another reason to choose Oakhurst, The Natural Goodness of Maine. For more information, visit www.oakhurstdairy.com.
About Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman, Morrill Worcester, in 1992. The organization’s mission, Remember, Honor, Teach, is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies on the second Saturday of December at Arlington, as well as hundreds of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. For more information, to donate or to sign up to volunteer, please visit www.WreathsAcrossAmerica.org.