Bennett Honors Fallen Veterans on Wreaths Across America Day at Andersonville National Cemetery

December 20, 2022

MCDONOUGH, GEORGIA (December 20, 2022) – For the second consecutive year, the Bennett Family of Companies and the Taylor Family Foundation were able to cover every gravesite at Andersonville National Cemetery for the holiday season by laying over 20,300 wreaths during National Wreaths Across America Day on Saturday, December 17, 2022.

The week began with eleven 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 3,400 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, Stacy and LeAnne Wakley, Tom and Pat Teddy, Stacey and Kellie Bargar, Robert Ellsworth and David and Sharon Briggs were celebrated by executives at the Rolling Ambassador Honor Breakfast.

For the first time this year, the Truist Financial Corporation (Truist) partnered with Bennett Family of Companies with its fundraising efforts to ensure that every gravesite of a fallen veteran would have a tribute wreath during the Christmas holiday. At the Ambassador Honor Breakfast and Convoy Rally, Truist was recognized for supporting Bennett’s annual fundraising goal and for their dedication to the Wreaths Across America mission.

Following the breakfast, employees gathered in the company’s shop to celebrate with Bennett’s fifth annual “Wreaths Across America All Warriors Remembered Ride and Convoy Rally.” The program featured the Boy Scouts from Troop 212 in Fayetteville, Georgia, presenting the colors and the Strong Rock Christian School Band from Locust Grove, Georgia, playing the National Anthem. In addition, each driver received a commemorative medal to recognize their service as volunteers.

Following the rally, Bennett employees gathered outside to show appreciation to the Rolling Ambassadors and those participating in the convoy by waving American flags as the convoy headed to Americus, Georgia. Watch footage from the convoy on Bennett’s Facebook page here.

The trucks left McDonough, escorted by the Henry County Police, the Clayton County Sheriff Department, Sumter County Sheriff Department, and the Newton County Sheriff Department through the backroads to Americus, Georgia, and finally stopping at Andersonville National Cemetery to unload.

“It is a huge blessing to be able to cover every gravesite at Andersonville with 20,300 wreaths for the second consecutive year. We couldn’t have done it without the support of Truist, Bennett employees, agents, drivers from across the country and the local community! 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 the ceremony. This year’s ceremony honored three soldiers who were laid to rest recently at Andersonville National Cemetery:

  • Vernon L. Phillips, Chief Master Sgt., US Air Force, laid to rest on October 11, 2022
  • Carl Israel, US Coast Guard, boatswain’s mate 2nd class, laid to rest on September 5, 2022
  • Staff Sgt. Grover Wade Rogers, US Army, laid to rest on August 24, 2022
Staff Sgt. Grover Wade Rogers with the U.S. Army was laid to rest at Andersonville National Cemetery on August 24, 2022. He was honored on Wreaths Across America Day on Saturday, December 17, 2022.

Following the ceremony, 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.

For the first time this year, Bennett along with Truist participated in Wreaths Across America Day at Houston National Cemetery in Houston, Texas. Bennett and Truist market this area and wanted to continue the mission of Wreaths Across America by helping in Texas.

Thousands were in attendance at the Houston National Cemetery for Wreaths Across America Day on Saturday, December 17, 2022.

Over 80,000 gravesites were covered with a holiday wreath to honor the fallen heroes that were laid to rest at Houston National Cemetery.

“Having never served in the military, this event allowed me to pay my personal respect to those who have sacrificed to keep us free. If you have never been to this event, especially if you didn’t serve in the military, please find time to pay your respects.”

said Jeff Brunner, Manager of HCS Bennett Motor Express Terminal in Houston, TX

To learn more about Wreaths Across America or to sponsor a wreath for 2023, visit here.

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 2023, 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.

Bennett employees gathered outside to show appreciation to the Ambassadors and those participating in the convoy by waving American flags as the convoy headed to Americus, Georgia.
The Bennett and Truist cobranded trailer dedicated to Wreaths Across America.
A family paid special tribute to a loved one laid to rest at Andersonville National Cemetery.
Robert Ellsworth, driver with Ace Doran, served as a Rolling Ambassador this year.
The family of Carl Israel with the US Coast Guard who was laid to rest on September 5, 2022 at Andersonville National Cemetery.
It was a beautiful day at Andersonville National Cemetery for this year’s Wreaths Across America Day.
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