Nearly 100 motorcycles filled the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery on Saturday morning as riders showed their support and gratitude for the sacrifice and service of veterans.

Michael Stoddard and his wife, Maryella, traveled from Kingsland to participate in the Ride for Wreaths fundraiser.

“We make it every year,” said Stoddard, a member of the United Methodist Motorcycle Enthusiasts.

This was the fifth year the local community hosted the fundraiser to help purchase and maintain holiday wreaths to place on each of the more than 5,000 gravesites at the cemetery.

Stoddard said he watched how Vietnam War veterans were treated when they returned home, and wants them to see they have the country’s support today.

“This is very important we keep this up,” he said.

The Ride for the Wreaths began and ended at Killeen Power Sports with a stop at the cemetery for remarks from retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bill May. He said he got involved with the wreaths for veterans about seven years ago.

“It’s grown exponentially over the years,” he said. “Our challenge will be to find a way to sustain the event.”

The cemetery in south Killeen grows by about 50 gravesites a month, according to cemetery officials.

This means more money must be raised each year to purchase more wreaths, and more volunteers are needed to place the wreaths on grave stones each November.

“This year I’m bringing my grandkids to lay wreaths to be able to understand the sacrifice,” said Felecia Hale of Belton, who also rode in the ride with the Methodist motorcycle club. “They don’t have anybody close to them in the military and I want them to understand it.”

How to help

Volunteers are needed for the next three Wreaths for Veterans events. Wreaths will be removed from storage and refreshed for placement on Nov. 22. Wreaths will be distributed in the cemetery on Nov. 29, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. In January, volunteers are needed to retrieve the wreaths. For more information, go to wreathforvets.org.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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