Honoring Veterans: U-Haul Sponsors Memorial Day Tribute Journey

Jun 3, 2024

U-Haul joined Gold Star Mother and founder Kathryn Cross on a journey to print, pack and distribute greeting cards to celebrate veterans, with stops in Connecticut and New York to meet our nation’s heroes in the week leading up to Memorial Day.

The Tribute Journey, founded by Cross, is an expression of appreciation for veterans and current military service members through custom-made greeting cards. The cards are illustrated with poetic verses by Cross and printed out of the U-Haul headquarters in Phoenix.

On May 4, Gold and Blue star families gathered to pack and mail over 20,000 Memorial Day Tribute Journey greeting cards to 81 hospitals in 45 different states. This is done to say “thank you” to those who served in the U.S. Armed Services and are cared for in Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers, outpatient clinics and nursing homes.

In addition, Cross plans an annual in-person journey to pay her respects. This year, Cross was joined by U-Haul Team Members at West Haven VA Medical Center and Long Island State Veterans Home to spend time with patients and gift over 600 greeting cards and goody bags.

“Every year I am reminded of how much our service members did and continue to do to protect our freedom,” Cross said. “I love being able to sit with veterans to hear their stories and share my appreciation.”

15 Years of Love and Appreciation

Cross has been designing cards for veterans since 2009, a labor of love she began in memory of her son, OSSN Tyler J. Connely, who gave his life serving his country. U-Haul has partnered with Cross to spread love to veterans for over 15 years. To date, U-Haul has printed and shipped well over 2 million Tribute Journey cards.

“This was a wonderful journey to be part of,” stated Ashleigh Wagner, U-Haul Community Relations manager. “I have worked with Kathryn for several years and continue to be inspired by the work she does for the veteran community.”

U-Haul Company’s community outreach plays a heavy hand in honoring and supporting veterans’ organizations, as well as causes like the Tribute Journey.

Tea by the Sea

To be a Gold Star family member is a heavy burden to bear. It comes with the knowledge that a family member was killed during their service in the armed forces. Memorial Day can be an especially harrowing time.

With the support of U-Haul, Cross puts on an annual “Tea by the Sea” for Gold and Blue Star Families, Veteran Affairs groups, and other organizations. It is a time to honor and heal, laugh and cry, and remember together.

Forty guests gathered for the Tea by the Sea event on May 24 at the Westbook Inn in Connecticut to dine on traditional English tea and delicacies like scones and croissants. Gold Star families were introduced, preceded by the names of their fallen loved ones.

“The event was very nice and intimate, but also very solemn as the reason it takes place is to honor and remember the service of a family member,” said Nick Marra, U-Haul Area District Vice President.

“I believe the tea and cards helped some gain a sense of community especially around Memorial Day.  My son and I were humbled by the stories of sacrifice by these families.”

U-Haul, the original veterans moving company, was founded by a WWII Navy veteran and his wife in 1945. Today, U-Haul actively recruits veterans to its workforce and gives them preference in the hiring process. Find U-Haul careers at uhauljobs.com.

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