DOD asks Walmart to lose logos from trucks used for Wreaths Across America
The U.S. Department of Defense has asked Walmart to remove military logos from 16 corporate tractor-trailers used to carry wreaths to veterans' graves for Wreaths Across America.
The DOD says Walmart was violating its trademarks.
The trucks sport logos for the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard above a field of snowy, wreath-covered headstones.
Jessica O'Haver, program manager for the trademark licensing office of the Marine Corps, said at least four of the five logos are official seals intended for use only by the DOD. A Marine spotted one of the trucks, took a picture and alerted her office back in December.
Walmart says the logos will be down by Memorial Day.
"It was never our intention to create controversy; we only wanted to honor the brave men and women who fight or have fought for our country," said Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Gee. "We use those trucks for specific, veteran-related events. We will be replacing the logo with the new design (for Wreaths Across America) in the near future."
Gee said it doesn't diminish Walmart's commitment to the charity, and O'Haver indicated there were no hard feelings.
"Walmart is very, very pro-military and they support us a lot, and so we work with them a lot," O'Haver said. "We certainly appreciate all that Wreaths Across America does to honor veterans and those who have fallen. It's just we can't appear to officially endorse the program with our logos."
Walmart has been involved with Wreaths Across America since 2008, last year donating $300,000 toward wreaths and $150,000 in in-kind trucking services.
Wreaths Across America spokeswoman Amber Caron said the group updated its own logo two years ago to depict three wreaths on three headstones. She said the update wasn't prompted by a DOD request.
Wreaths Across America, based in Harrington, Maine, last year placed 540,000 wreaths on veterans' graves in more than 900 locations. This coming winter, in honor of the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery, Caron said the group is hoping to place a wreath on each grave at Arlington, which would mean an additional 100,000 wreaths.
She deferred comment on the DOD's recent request to Walmart.