A love of American history and military traditions inspired David McFadden to give back.
By Hilary Reeves
On the subject of his early years, David McFadden “could write a book.”
Born in Tennessee and raised by his father, he spent his childhood in Mississippi, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and Florida.
“We even lived in Bermuda for a year when I was about eight,” he said.
McFadden finished high school in Mumford, Tennessee, naming his father as his greatest childhood influence.
“Life wasn’t always easy, and we didn’t always see eye-to-eye,” he explained. “But he brought me up to treat everyone as a friend, regardless of their skin color, and to help people as often as I could. He instilled in me my love of God, family, and our great country. He taught me to always defend those who can’t protect themselves, which I’ve done many, many times, knowing I would at least get a bloody nose from it. He taught me that a real man is never worried about showing his emotion. To me, Dad was and always will be ‘Superman.’”
McFadden said he never thought much growing up about what he wanted to with his life, but this love of family and history influenced his decision to join the U.S. Navy out of high school.
“In 1718, my ancestors came over from Ireland and settled in Merry Meeting Bay in Maine,” he said. “My family is very deeply rooted in American history. I know of historical markers about (my ancestors) in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Texas, and I’m sure there are more. They founded what is now Mt. Vernon, Indiana, and also have towns named after them in Wyoming and Texas. They were even one of the first four families in what later became Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas. We’ve been serving our country, fighting for it, and even dying for it for longer that we’ve even been a country.”
McFadden served in the Navy aboard the USS Virginia as a Torpedoman’s Mate, following in the footsteps of his father, who served in the Navy between 1962 and 1983. He said he never planned on becoming a truck driver, but said he felt it was his best chance of being able to afford acreage.
“My wife and I want to buy a house with a few acres so we can raise a few cows and horses,” he said. “What I like most about driving for Interstate is being able to drive all over the country with my best friend, my wife, beside me.”
The greatest challenge, he said, is overcoming the lack of common sense car drivers show when driving around big rigs.
“A typical day out here on the road is just trying to survive and ensuring those around me do as well,” he said.
McFadden applied to be one of two drivers representing Interstate Distributor during December’s Wreaths Across America event earlier last fall. He was selected by the company to drive to Maine, load thousands of wreaths into his rig, and drive south to Arlington National Cemetery, where the wreaths were unloaded and placed on the graves of the veterans buried there.
“I love our country,” said McFadden when asked why he wanted to transport the wreaths. “I love our history, and I love our military. Many young men and women gladly served out country and made the choice to die if necessary for us. We should never disrespect their memory, but pay tribute to their courage, honor and service, and to the lives they gave so that we can be and always will be a free nation.
“Many times in the past, I’ve said that a man won’t fight nearly as hard for money or fame as one who fights for a cause he believes in,” he concluded. “Our service men and women fight for love of family, love of God, love of freedom, and love of country. They place more value on our country than they do on their own lives. I thank veterans every day for their service, and shake their hands, and by being a Wreaths Across America driver, I got to tell those otherwise forgotten, ‘rest well, valiant hero. You’ll forever be in my heart and prayers.’”
McFadden said he believes that if every American participated in a Wreaths Across America journey, they would understand that the true American heroes aren’t athletes or entertainers, but our troops.
“The way I see it is this: my name is David Warren McFadden. They don’t know me, yet they loved me enough to die for me. We should all be eternally grateful for their sacrifice and never forget their names.”
When he not trucking, McFadden loves visiting his grandchildren, reading, building models, fishing, and hunting. He said he’s still working to achieve his goal of buying a home with land so he can work it and improve it.
“I like the simpler things in life, like watching the sun rise and set, or getting out into the woods well before sunrise and listening to nature waking up. I want to be remembered as a kind-hearted man who made people laugh and helped others.