KILLEEN — Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, tilled, weeded and raked to spruce up the grounds of Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery on Aug. 15.
“Our purpose out here is to show our support for our community (and) to show our respect for veterans and our brothers- and sisters-in-arms that have come before us,” said 2nd Lt. Elizabeth Schmitt, event coordinator and a personnel systems management officer with the troop. “(It’s a chance) to really kind of take a moment to contemplate our service to our nation and why we’re here today.”
Schmitt said events like this are very important because (soldiers) are very connected to those who have previously served, and it gives the troop a greater purpose to their role in the military.
Having a history of community service, Schmitt came up with the idea of the troop having its own community service program. She chose this cemetery because of its proximity to Fort Hood.
“We love the volunteers,” said Charlie Walden, cemetery director. “You can’t run a place like this without good volunteers.”
The cemetery has volunteers for just about every event from Memorial Day to Veteran’s Day and the Fourth of July, and there is always something to do, the director said.
Volunteers washed walls, raked tree wells and pulled weeds around the entrance.
“It goes with what our position is,” Walden said about having soldiers volunteer at the cemetery. “We are a veterans’ cemetery and any veteran (and) any soldier that is honorably discharged is eligible to be buried here and his family. It’s nice to have (the volunteers) around all the time.”
Simple things the volunteers do, like keeping the cemetery clean, is a way of showing respect to our veterans, Walden said.
“It means a lot to me to give something back,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Crawford, a fire support noncommissioned officer. “I came out to give something back to the community not only to the community itself, but to the soldiers who reside here right now, we owe them a lot.”
Crawford said the event is important because it shows support to the families of the cemetery’s residents.
“It’s important for us to be out here today to lead from the front because that is what we’re supposed to be doing … and to show our support to the families of those who’ve fallen before,” Crawford said. “Once again, these individuals, they’re the most important today, it’s all about them.”