Standing in front of a wall of names, retired Staff Sgt. Yvonne Smith remembered the times she spent with her two brothers-in-law.
“I come about every year,” said Smith, who laid wreaths for fallen loved ones following a Wreaths Across America event Saturday at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen. “They were good people.”
The ceremony was one of more than 500 taking place simultaneously at veterans’ cemeteries and memorials across the nation.
Randy Brumagim, senior vice commander for Disabled American Veterans Chapter 147 helped host the local ceremony.
“It’s a way to honor all services of all branches, and I can’t think of a better way to give tribute than these memorials to our service members,” Brumagim said.
Representatives from all branches of the military, in addition to veterans organizations, laid wreaths for the fallen as the 1st Cavalry Division band played their songs.
World War II veteran Bob Bearden, who has 13 awards including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, placed a wreath for the POW/MIA veterans organization during the ceremony.
Although it’s not a word the 90-year-old former prisoner of war uses often, Bearden said the community’s remembrance of fallen soldiers is “awesome.”
“I have friends who are buried in military cemeteries who got there the hard way,” Bearden said.
Brig. Gen. Dean Milner, the Canadian deputy commander of Fort Hood and III Corps, said it’s important to remember anyone who has ever worn the uniform to protect our freedoms while giving the ultimate sacrifice.
“We make a commitment to always remember our service members ... and the unsung heroes who have honored this country with their very lives,” Milner said. “While remembering those who gave us the ultimate gift, we also remember those great veterans who continue to live with war-scarred memories.”
Amid the remembrance of fallen soldiers, it’s great to live in a warm-hearted military community that cares about soldiers and their families, Smith said. “We miss (the fallen heroes), but they’re in a better place.”