Adele Heath sat beside the grave of her husband, William Heath Jr., at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery Monday morning, despite the heat.
Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson, deputy commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, paused to greet her on his way to speak at the ceremony honoring the many who gave their all for our freedom.
Adele and William were married just about 46 years, as she tells it, though they knew each other for years before that. “We were next door neighbors in Houston.”
Though the couple met when Adele was six, she admitted, “I didn’t like him until I was 16.”
Adele is looking forward to traveling to Washington D.C. for a special ceremony on Father’s Day, June 17, where she will read William’s name during the In Memory Program, which is part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
A short distance away, Command Sgt. Maj. Maurice Jackson spoke with Victor Cuadrado, who was visiting the grave of his friend, Luis Angel Feliciano-Caro.
“It’s about what they did for us,” Thomson said of the deceased service members. “They put aside their futures so we could enjoy freedom. We can’t forget that.”
Kenny Tran, a Marine stationed in Hawaii, attended the ceremony in honor of his uncle, Lawrence Paul, who is buried at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. Tran has been visiting family since Mother’s Day, and felt it was important to join the many Army veterans gathered to remember.
Army veterans Randy Sumerall and Charles Parker, Knights of Columbus from St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church in Harker Heights, placed a wreath during the ceremony.
“We’ve got a lot of friends out here,” Parker said of the more than 8,000 veterans buried on the sacred ground.
Eileen Parker, an Army veteran who served on Okinawa at the beginning of the Vietnam War, recalled her days in the service. “It’s very special to remember all those who didn’t make it back.”
Among the dignitaries speaking at the ceremony were Thomson, George P. Bush, chairman of the Texas Land Board, and the mayors of Killeen, Harker Heights and Copperas Cove.
An honor guard from Fort Hood provided a 21 gun salute, and Spc. Paul Roberts played Taps.
In Copperas Cove, Arthur Bryan played Taps for the Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans Memorial Day ceremony Monday afternoon.
Copperas Cove mayor Frank Seffrood recalled how traditions like milking the cows and feeding the calves are part of the traditions on which society is built, as is recognizing those who have served before us.
Seffrood likened the example set by those who lost their lives serving in the military to footprints in the sand. “It’s going to take a lot for us to follow in those footsteps.”
Star Group-VHV president Jonathan Haywood spoke about how much the community, and other veteran organizations, come together in not only remembering those who have died, but those who survived.
Haywood saw the day as a celebration. “We celebrate their lives so they know it meant something to us.”
Organizations then placed their wreaths before the podium, and Haywood read the list of names of those in Star Group-VHV who have died while Dianne Jones rang the memorial bell.
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