KILLEEN — Veterans Day in a military community is about more than parades and having the day off.
“We are free today because of men like these buried here,” said Alex Gibbs, a Boy Scout from Troop 287.
Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops from Harker Heights and Nolanville, along with soldiers from Fort Hood, gathered at the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery on Monday to pay tribute to those who have served.
“Today, we are here to honor those who have fought and fallen for our country,” said Evan Jefferson, a Cub Scout from Pack 255.
Side-by-side, soldiers and scouts placed American flags on every gravesite.
Clark Walden, who works at the cemetery, said the flag placing happens twice a year: on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
“The flags will stay on the gravesites until the Saturday after Thanksgiving,” Walden said.
The cemetery opened in January 2006 and there are currently more than 5,000 people laid to rest there. The cemetery also features a cremation site and flags were placed there, too.
“We have been doing the flag placing and wreath laying since the cemetery opened,” Walden said.
Adam Crispen, an officer with the Killeen Police Department, brings his wife and children out to the cemetery every Veterans Day.
“Being a veteran myself, I feel it’s important to be here today,” he said,
The morning began with the volunteers gathering to hear directions on how to properly place the flags. A moment of silence was observed to honor all who have served and are currently serving. Then, Gold Star families with loved ones buried at the cemetery went out first to place the flags at their loved one’s final resting place.
Staff Sgt. Dustin Klinefelter and Staff Sgt, Jason Levalley, both with the 1st Cavalry Division, were among a group of soldiers who volunteered to help the Boy Scouts.
“Our first sergeant put out the information last week and we all volunteered to be a part of this,” Levalley said.
Soldiers talked about the importance of being at the cemetery on Veterans Day.
“Those that are buried here paved the way for the rest of us who serve,” Klinefelter said.