Tomy Fox, a company driver and trainer for XPO Logistics Truckload, recalls the son in Joplin, Mo., who never met his father.
Today, that son is a 38-year-old man. And he was standing at the foot of Fox’s truck, tears welling in his eyes.
The Wall That Heals was still in panels in Fox’s trailer, yet to be assembled. But the son knew one thing: His father’s name was on it.
The Wall That Heals is an exact half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. In an outreach effort, the Truckload Carriers Association arranges for drivers to transport The Wall That Heals to areas where people are physically or financially unable to visit the actual Vietnam Memorial. The Wall That Heals, 250 feet long and five feet tall, is assembled by volunteers from city to city.
When Fox was asked if he’d like to drive the Wall That Heals this summer, he jumped at the chance. For the Vietnam veteran who spent 21 years in the Air Force, it was the honor of a lifetime.
“There are 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, and I got to do it. That’s, wow,” says Fox, who enlisted right out of high school. “It was a privilege and an honor, and it led me to help the guys to heal. Because that’s what that wall does—it heals. A lot of the guys never had a chance to say goodbye, so this is their chance to pay their last respects.”
As Fox drove The Wall through Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Utah, Texas and New Mexico, he had someone special on his mind. “I have a friend on The Wall,” he says. “I thought of him all the time for a month-and-a-half this summer—because I carried him around with me.”
The Wall That Heals evokes that weighty emotion everywhere. Fox can tell who has a loved one on The Wall by the rawness, the slowness of their actions as they approach it.
“They walk up to The Wall and stop, and kind of pause. They kneel down, and then they go,” Fox says. “And that’s why we call it The Wall That Heals. You can see the healing taking place. You see it through the tears, the laughter.”
Fox says he will never forget the warm gestures that brought a tear to his eye as he drove. In Illinois, 140 motorcyclists escorted him into the town of Hoffman Estates. In other places, veterans saluted along the roadside as he passed.
“The way I Iook at it, I had 58,307 souls on the end of my trailer,” Fox says. “I had a cargo of souls. And that’s the way I treated it.”
More than half of CDL truck drivers like Fox are U.S. military veterans. Find the best CDL trucking job for you with Drive My Way. Register today. It’s free.
Featured image from Google.com; all other images courtesy XPO Logistics Truckload