Friday, 15/1/2021 | : : UTC-5
Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Community attendance increases for annual wreath-laying ceremony

Community attendance increases for annual wreath-laying ceremony

By Shannon Myers

On Saturday, approximately 3,500 members of the surrounding communities came to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery to honor the fallen service members for the 11 annual Veterans Land Board Wreath Laying Ceremony.
“This is the most special event, every year, in our community. I feel that this is the most meaningful statement a military community can make because not only do we serve those who serve in life, but we serve them in death as well and I just think it’s such a meaningful tribute,” said Jean Shine.
Over 6,700 evergreen wreaths were prepared for the ceremony.
“Every year it grows. The cemetery grows, but so does the amount of volunteers,” said Shine.
For the past 10 years, wreaths, a symbol of eternity, have been placed by the headstones. The Central Texas State Veterans cemetery grows by nearly 800 graves each year.
Local resident, Cindy Hildner continues to be amazed at the growing number of people who have come out to support and pay their respects.
“My husband served at Fort Hood twice during his Army career. It’s an honor to be here. To honor him and all the other soldiers that have passed. It feels good. It’s so comforting to know that the community’s behind you and they won’t forget,” said Hildner.
For many of the volunteers who did not have family resting at the cemetery, laying of the wreath and spending a few moments to honor those buried for the friends and families who were not able to be there was a special and humbling way of showing support.
“It’s a sobering event. Seeing all the people and the family members who have family that is buried here. I’m glad I could come,” said veteran, Clint Thomlinson.
Senior Deputy Director Veteran Programs of the Texas Veterans Land Board and former Fort Hood Garrison Commander, COL (Ret.) Matt Elledge, gave some remarks before the laying of the wreaths.
“I can’t thank you enough. Some of you have family out there, some of you are just here out of respect for those that paid the ultimate price and for those that continue to serve and lead our communities, you’re out there for them,” said Elledge.
Friends of the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery coordinated the event.
“We’re just very thankful that people do this,” said local resident, Rhonda Michael. “There’s a lot of people who do not have family buried here, but they still take their time to come out and honor vets that may not have family here. If we were sick or away right now, we would like that somebody came out and honored our dad,” said Rhonda Michael.
Rhonda Michael, and her daughter, Cassidy Michael have laid a wreaths by their family member’s headstones and other veterans for the past 10 years.
“It’s really emotional,” said Cassidy Michael. “Just seeing everybody out here and coming together and all of the families honoring their families and helping out with anybody else that doesn’t have family here. It makes me proud to be an American,” said Cassidy Michael.



Family members pay respect to their loved one at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery Saturday, Nov 26 during the Wreaths for Vets.


Harker Height's Exclusive Newspaper with a circulation of 5500 through racked distribution in over 50 local businesses as well as home delivery.

Contact Us

Phone: 254-939-5754

Fax: 254-939-2333

Address: 210 N. Penelope St, Belton, TX 76513