Many hands made light work Saturday morning during the annual “fluffing” of the wreaths at the Killeen Special Events Center.
More than 1,000 people from various organizations across the state gathered to prepare almost 5,000 wreaths that will be laid on every grave at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery on Saturday.
“When I woke up this morning and saw the weather, I was so afraid no one was going to show up,” said Jean Shine, owner of Shine Team Realtors in Harker Heights and the brainchild behind Wreaths for Vets, a nonprofit
organization that raises money to purchase silk wreaths and bows. “Seeing how many people showed up today to help just brings a tear to my eye.”
For many of the volunteers, the event was personal.
Judith Nix, of Glen Rose, drove more than two hours to participate. She buried her husband, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. William K. Nix, at the cemetery last March. “This makes me feel like he is not forgotten,” she said. “It moved me to tears when I saw the wreaths last year and decided I would devote myself to help this year.”
Event drew volunteers of all ages
Volunteers of all ages showed up to prepare the wreaths and to log volunteer hours, including Lauren Ferrara, 12, who volunteered with Union Grove Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society.
“It’s important to honor those who have served,” said Lauren, whose father is deployed.
The annual Friends of the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery wreath-laying ceremony will be at 10 a.m. Saturday. Retired Lt. Gen. David Richard Palmer, author, historian and former superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, will be the guest speaker.
To combat parking problems, there will be a park-and-ride option available to wreath-layers. Shine said buses will run every 15 minutes from the parking lot at the Texas A&M University-Central Texas campus, 1001 Leadership Place in Killeen, to the cemetery at 11463 S. State Highway 195.
“At any second, one of our own sons or daughters could end up in those graves,” said Cindy McNally, founder and president of Williamson County Blue Star Mothers. “For those of us who have lost someone, it’s important for us to know that the community has not forgotten them and the wreath-laying is one of those events that keeps their spirit alive.”
For more information, go to www.wreathsforvets.org.