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Holiday Wreaths for Veterans

 

For those who have lost loved ones in war or know soldiers serving far from home, Christmas can be a tough time. Some volunteers in Texas have chosen to honor those sacrifices with a special holiday tradition. UMTV rode along with these bikers on a mission in 2010.

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(Locator: Killeen, Texas)

It's a frosty Texas morning.

Biker: "I am so cold."

..but these bikers are on a mission.

Pete Martinez, Volunteer: "We love to ride, freedom of the road. And those guys lying out there are the ones that give us the freedom."

Z.Z. Wastelanders, Retired Vet: "I definitely believe that people don't remember all the sacrifices."

(Motorcycles pass, with sirens)

They're escorting a truckload of Christmas wreaths to the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery at Killeen. Biker Carol Law's son-in-law is serving in Afghanistan.

Carol Law, Volunteer: "Look what they're doing for me. Got to give back something."

Every year, members of First United Methodist Church of Killeen hand-decorate hundreds of wreaths. Fourteen-year-old Brandon Baker is a volunteer.

Brandon Baker, First United Methodist of Killeen: "It makes me feel happy that they're being honored here at the cemetery instead of just being forgotten on the battlefield."

(Group sings national anthem) "Oh, say can you see?"

Beverly Norman's son, Captain Michael Norman, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Beverly Norman: "My son was the first one buried on the line that he's on. There are like nine full rows behind him. And that's been since February of 2008."

She thinks the cemetery wreaths are important reminders.

Beverly Norman: "For all the things going on around this world, we need to respect that and give thanks, not only at this time of year, but all year, for those who give their lives."

The project is now in its fifth year and has raised enough money to buy 2,400 wreaths. Veteran Charlene Miller helps place the memorials.

Charlene Miller: "This is important because some of these people that we're going to put wreaths at their gravesides don't have anyone representing them. I've done this for the past four years."

Church member Jean Shine started the wreaths program in this community, which has close ties to Fort Hood. She's touched by how quickly her vision has become a treasured holiday tradition.

Jean Shine, Member, First United Methodist of Killeen: "Makes me want to cry. It's very heartwarming to know that people care. That they love and respect those who have done so much for us."

(voice of Skip Blancett, First United Methodist of Killeen) "May they know that their death was not in vain, that their efforts are inscribed in our memories and that they are remembered daily."

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In 2014, more than 4,000 wreaths were placed at the Cemetery to honor fallen Veterans and their families. For more information about the wreaths project or contact Jean Shine at (254) 690-4321.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.

Media contact is Fran Walsh, 615-742-5458.

Posted: December 15, 2010