LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Every December, 'Wreaths Across America' visits national cemeteries to honor veterans, but this year they're hitting the road a bit early.
"You need to honor people that sacrificed for this country," said Lloyd Moore, a Vietnam veteran.
It's a mantra that Moore and many others heard constantly during the visit. But, he said that hasn't always been the case.
He said he remembers a time when veterans were treated poorly after returning home from service.
"I remember I wanted to put a uniform on and put my green on, and a man was very rude," said Moore. "I never knew why people had this hatred," Moore said.
Moore's not the only one that's witnessed this behavior either.
Stefan Bran is the driving ambassador for 'Wreaths Across America' and he said that he often hears similar stories.
That's why he makes it his goal to treat veterans with the respect that they deserve.
"We are pretty lucky. We get to hang out with veterans every day," Bran said.
His personal mission is to make sure no veteran feels the pain that Moore alluded to.
"Just by the reading and the documentaries, I understand what they went through, and it wasn't right. Wasn't right at all," Bran said.
He joined 'Wreaths Across America' two years ago and now is going beyond just laying a wreath every year.
"I get to go to work and interact with people every day, spread the word of 'Wreaths Across America' and the mission and just talk to people about the importance of saying those words 'thank you'", Bran said.
Those words are printed all across the organization's mobile exhibit unit.
The truck first hit the road back in July 2020 with a goal of sharing personal stories.
"I've developed a narrative of 'Wreaths Across America' and our history along with a timeline from 1992-2021. I find that people genuinely like to hear the story rather than read it," Bran said.
The telling of those stories is important to veterans like Bubba Beason.
He said the exhibit allows people to truly understand the purpose behind laying a wreath on a headstone.
"You always want to make sure that if something happened to to yourself, you'd also might remember what you did for America," Beason said.
He believes that could encourage people to continue to come back.
"They say you die twice. Once when you stop breathing and once when they stopped saying your name," Beason said.
More than 50 people stopped to take the tour while the mobile exhibit was in Little Rock.
The unit will be Jacksonville on Sunday and the tour will end in Jonesboro in May.