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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

10th Wreath Retrieval Ceremony draw over 600

10th Wreath Retrieval Ceremony draw over 600

Shannon Myres 

Evening Star 

 

Over 600 people gathered at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery for the 10th annual wreath retrieval. The wreaths adorned with red bows are placed on every grave and memorial within the cemetery on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, to honor those and their families who are laid to rest there.

“It’s always amazing to me, to see how many people are committed to see the whole program through every year,” said Shine, executive board member of the Friends of Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery (FCTSVC). “So, having such a large crowd to come out and do the hard work of getting things picked up and stored for next year, it’s always just heartwarming to see the people. The holidays are over, but people are still in the spirit of giving to the community and to those who served,” said Shine.

The organizations involved were a little concerned on attendance due to the delaying of one week caused by turbulent weather.

The average crowd of citizens to attend the retrieval is 800 to 1,000.

Wreath2“They’re rolling in, just like they always do. So, it just shows what a real community event this is and that people are so dedicated to the mission of laying of the wreaths, picking them up, and making sure that this continues on,” said Shine.

The wreath project has honored the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery for the past 10 years.

The project started when Wreaths Across America delivered a few wreaths to every veterans cemetery in the United States. A community member believed that every grave should have a wreath and rallied together to make the wreath laying possible.

Volunteer, Robert Whitney, local resident and retired Army, was there at the first wreath laying ceremony.

“Jean (Shine) came out here one day to lay a wreath on someone’s grave and she looked down on all these graves and came back to our church and said there was nothing out there on the graves. We all had a meeting at the church and it grew from there,” said Whitney.

Whitney has participated in nearly all of the ceremonies and retrievals over the wreath laying’s history.

“It gets bigger every year. It started out as 50 to 60 people and now over 1,000 come. It’s fantastic,” said Whitney. “These are all my buddies out here. My neighbors. I retired in ’77 and some of my people are out here. Just showing them respect, that’s all it is,” said Whitney.

All of the wreaths that numbered over 7,000, were picked up, secured, and stored on storage trucks.

“It says a lot about our community. It shows that we can still pull together for great events like this and that there’s still hope in humanity. It says a lot,” said Craig Larson, wreath retrieval volunteer.

With every year, the cemetery grows with over 800 graves needing more wreaths and volunteers to continue the tradition of honoring our veterans.

Although the wreaths are stored, the FCTSVC works throughout the year, collecting donations, organizing events, and wreath prepping to ensure every grave new and old will have a wreath come November.

For more information on upcoming opportunities with the FCTSVC or would like to make a donation or volunteer, visit, www.wreathsforvets.orgWreath2

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