Normally, Keshon Patterson’s cargo is chicken, both fresh and frozen. He’s a driver for Tyson Foods.
But earlier this week, he carried something of great seasonal significance: wreaths to honor the fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, including three wreaths for people close to him in his life.
Patterson, a member of the National Guard, first learned about Wreaths Across America at work last year, through his trainer at Tyson Foods. When Patterson mentioned his military experience, his trainer said that the company has been involved with Wreaths Across America since 2010.
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“He even showed me some videos he’d previously recorded,” said Patterson. One showed the convoy of Tyson Foods trucks bringing Christmas wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery.
“I told him I would love to be a part of Wreaths Across America one day in the near future,” Patterson shared with Fox News Digital.
“I had no idea it would come so quickly for me.”
‘Long line of military family’
Born and raised in small-town Georgia, Patterson moved to North Carolina as a teenager and joined the North Carolina Army National Guard in May 2019. He serves in the 881st Engineering Company.
“I joined the National Guard because I wanted to give back to my country,” he said.
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On the week-long trek of bringing the wreaths from Maine to Virginia, Patterson told Fox News Digital that he felt a mix of emotions.
“I feel proud, honored and sad all at once,” he said. “I come from a long line of military family — so when I say it is an honor, I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”
“I love being able to help veterans as well as those like myself who are currently serving.”
Patterson also praised the work of everyone involved in the convoy.
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In total, it consisted of 25 truckloads of wreaths. It traveled across 14 states.
“It has been an honor to be chosen to participate in this memorable program and just to be able to ride along some great and remarkable people,” said Patterson — including veterans, volunteers, members of law enforcement and Gold Star families.
“We could have not done this convoy if it was not for all the people that played a part in this,” he said.
“Coming from the bottom of my heart, I would like to give a big thank you to everyone involved,” he also said.
On Saturday, Patterson will be placing wreaths on the graves of his father, Lester Patterson, his uncle, Lenton Charles McRae, and his close friend and “battle buddy,” Max Avila.
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“I love being able to help veterans as well as those like myself who are currently serving. Helping their families and helping their communities truly means the world to me,” he told Fox News Digital.
“I am thankful for Wreaths Across America, my employer, Tyson Foodsm as well as all the amazing people I have come to know during our convoy to Arlington Cemetery,” said Patterson.
In 1992, Morrill Worcester, owner of the Worcester Wreath Company of Maine, had a surplus of wreaths, said the Wreaths Across America website.
Working with his senator, he donated the wreaths for placement at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
The tradition continued each year with little fanfare or notice, said the website.
“Everything changed in 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet. Suddenly, the homespun tribute from a small town in downeast Maine was receiving national attention,” said the Wreaths Across America website.
In 2007, the Worcester family officially founded Wreaths Across America as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The following year, wreath-laying ceremonies were held in more than 300 locations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and overseas.
By 2014, Wreaths Across America was able to place a wreath at all 226,525 graves at Arlington National Cemetery, says the Department of Defense’s website.
An estimated three million wreaths will be placed on the headstones of America’s veterans this year.
Congress designated the date Dec. 13, 2008, as the first “Wreaths Across America Day.”
In 2023, Wreaths Across America Day is December 16.
This year’s theme is “Serve and succeed.”
An estimated three million wreaths will be placed on the headstones of America’s veterans in December 2023.
To learn how to participate on behalf of America’s fallen veterans, anyone can visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org to find more information and details.
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