MCDONOUGH, GEORGIA (January 5, 2022) – The Bennett Family of Companies and the Taylor Family Foundation recently honored fallen veterans at Andersonville National Cemetery for the holiday season by laying over 20,300 wreaths during National Wreaths Across America Day on Saturday, December 18, 2021.
The week began with nine Bennett drivers going to Columbia Falls, Maine to pick up wreaths from the Worcester Wreath Company, the founders of the Wreaths Across America organization. They joined truckers who delivered more than 2.2. million wreaths to 2,175 participating locations throughout the country, all committed to the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach.
After arriving at Bennett’s Home Office headquarters in McDonough, Georgia, the Bennett drivers, Lars Searle and Stephanie Hanwell, Mikkel Forney, Chris and Brandi Clark, David and Sharon Briggs and Stewart and Melody Anderson were celebrated by executives at the Rolling Ambassador Honor Breakfast.
Following the breakfast, employees gathered in the company’s shop to celebrate with a Convoy Rally that featured the JROTC color guard and the Mustangs band from Ola High School, playing our National Anthem. In addition, each driver received a commemorative medal to recognize their service as volunteers. David Pittman, President and CFO of the Bennett Family of Companies and his father, David Pittman Sr., were recognized as Honorary Rolling Ambassadors and also presented with commemorative medals.
Following the rally, there was a small ceremony held outside to reveal the specially wrapped trailer dedicated to honor the 13 service members that tragically lost their lives in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021. Bennett extended invitations to all of the families that lost their loved ones in Afghanistan. The family of Marine Corporal Humberto “Bert” Sanchez attended the Rolling Ambassador Honor Breakfast and the Convoy Rally to honor his legacy.
Bennett employees gathered outside to show appreciation to the Sanchez family, Ambassadors and those participating in the convoy by waving American flags as the convoy headed to Americus, Georgia. Watch footage from the convoy and trailer reveal from Bennett’s Facebook page here.
The trucks left McDonough, escorted by the Henry County Sheriff, the Henry County Police along with the Thunder Riders West H.O.G. Chapter through the backroads to Americus, Georgia, and finally stopping at Andersonville National Cemetery to unload.
In 2020, the Bennett Family of Companies and the Taylor Foundation were able to deliver 10,971 wreaths to the cemetery to cover 20,300 gravesites at Andersonville. This past year’s fundraising efforts remained a challenge due to the pandemic, however, with the support of Bennett employees, agents, drivers from across the country and the Henry County business community, it was a blessing to be able to cover every gravesite at Andersonville National Cemetery with a wreath and continue to be a part of National Wreaths Across America Day.
“Our goal each year has been to cover every gravesite at Andersonville with 20,300 wreaths. With the support of our drivers, our employees and the local community, we were able to reach our goal! I’m so grateful for all of the support in helping the cause for Wreaths Across America each year,” said Lee Gentry, Executive Vice President of Bennett Family of Companies and Wreaths Across America captain.
The following morning, for National Wreaths Across America Day, a small ceremony was held that honored all veterans, and especially the fallen who are laid to rest at Andersonville. Bennett’s Executive Vice President and Wreaths Across America captain, Lee Gentry appeared alongside Andersonville National Cemetery Superintendent, Gia Wagner, to lead a ceremony that honored the 13 service members lost in Afghanistan, all veterans, and especially the fallen who are laid to rest at Andersonville.
It is estimated that over 100 Bennett employees and their families descended on Andersonville to begin laying wreaths on the gravesites along with local supporters. After each wreath was laid by people of all ages, and proper honor and tribute was paid to each soldier laid to rest there, the cemetery was left with a lasting image of respect and tribute to the soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Watch the video below as Jim Utley, VP of Government Services, explains why he along with others at Bennett wanted to recognize the 13 service members with a special trailer wrap.
About Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit 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 in December at Arlington, as well as at more than 1,600 cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. For more information or to Sponsor a Wreath for 2022, please visit https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/GA0213.
About the Taylor Family Foundation
The Taylor Family Foundation is a private, family foundation established in 2012 by Marcia and her husband Mike Taylor. The foundation supports and provides grants geared towards family values, senior citizen care and community initiatives. The Taylor Family Foundation is a family endeavor. Their children and grandchildren join Marcia and Mike on the Board Committee. The goal of the Taylor family is to take a percentage of profits from their family business, the Bennett Family of Companies each quarter and put it towards funding honorable stewardships affecting communities nationwide. The Taylor family’s values embody their commitment to the Christian Faith, the preservation of family values, the support of children in need, quality healthcare, the value of education, and commitment to helping the elderly, women and children.