Recently I heard the song "Angels Among Us" (by the group Alabama) and it transported me back to a time that exemplifies the song's meaning. It was in the early 1990s and my family and I were at the Alabama concert at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville. Freedom Hall was packed with professional drivers and their families for the concert that was hosted by Kenworth.
When the song, "Angels Among Us" was performed, the lights were dimmed and many of the nearly 5,000 fans held their lighters in front of them as they sang the words. The sight of these drivers, swaying to the music as their voices combined with those of their loved ones and friends was truly amazing.
For me personally, the fact that my family and I were even at the concert was due to the generosity of two professional drivers. Kenworth sponsored the concert but allowed only two tickets per CDL holder. My children and I were standing in line with their dad, a professional driver, wondering which of us would be able to attend the concert on two tickets.
During the wait in line we struck up a conversation with a couple of drivers in front of us at the Kenworth booth. One, a Viet Nam Veteran who was proud of his Native American Heritage, greeted us with a traditional greeting. He and his friend offered to each get two tickets so our entire family could enjoy the concert. His name is Arizona, and I still consider him a friend, an "angel among us."
Years later I would run into Arizona again, but this time I was leading the organization Trucker Buddy International, and Arizona had adopted a class in Kentucky. He was passionate about his students and the teacher appreciated his efforts in teaching the children about his Native American background. He corresponded with them for many years and I was always amazed at his quiet resolve to make a difference to those around him. Arizona might not look like your typical angel, but in my mind he was one.
I considered Arizona and the other drivers involved in the Trucker Buddy program to be angels among us. They showed these children a positive side of the trucking industry that no amount of advertising could achieve. For every driver who adopts a class, there are ripples that are sent out from those students that extend to parents, school administrators and even the community. I was proud to represent the organization and I still maintain friendships with many of the drivers, including Arizona.
The feeling that I had at that concert and in the Trucker Buddy program as I marvel at the kinship of these drivers is the same feeling that I had when I heard about the recent efforts for the stranded drivers who'd worked for Arrow Trucking. Once word got out that these men and women were en route to their deliveries when their fuel cards were shut off and communication with the company was unsuccessful, the angels among us became active.
People offered their homes, carriers offered rides through their own drivers and companies scrambled to hire some of the nearly 1,400 displaced drivers. The trucking community is still reacting to the news of the shut down; but the tragedy showed us there are still individuals and groups who reinforce and exhibit the camaraderie that exists in this industry.