BRAZOS VALLEY, TX — A nonprofit which supports veterans hosted two events in Bryan yesterday, with plans to bring more events to other Brazos Valley locations this week.
Every Christmas season, the local chapter of Wreaths Across America, or WAA, lays thousands of wreaths on veteran graves across the Brazos Valley.
The national nonprofit has been hosting several special events in the Brazos Valley this week – the first of which, involved an unprecedented march wreath-laying in Bryan on March 4, honoring Helen Flores, a young female veteran who died in 1988.
"We worked with the American Legion to do modified honors," relayed Ellen Fuller, co-chair for WAA - Brazos Valley. "We arranged for a flag from Sen. Donna Campbell... to have a flag flown over the state, which we presented to [Flores'] dad, and then her daughter Esther got the American flag from the honor guard.”
United States soldier and Bryan resident, Helen Flores, died young from an illness more than 30 years ago.
While her family lives locally and visits her grave, they had never known how to sign up Flores' name for the wreath-laying program. When WAA recently learned that Flores’ headstone had gone unrecognized, they jumped on the opportunity to honor her.
“A lot of times people think this is about dead people, but it’s about the surviving family, knowing that their loved one is not forgotten," Fuller said. The wreath-laying at Bryan City Cemetery coincided with two other events happening just up the road, at American Legion Earl Graham Post 159: a Vietnam veteran pinning ceremony, and a traveling exhibit’s stop. At Post 159, WAA set up shop alongside the Brazos Valley Marine Corps League, to share their mobile education exhibit, which travels all across the country to introduce people to the nonprofit’s programs.
"It is an interactive exhibit," noted Stefan Brann, a spokesperson for WAA and the exhibit. "I do a little narrative about the history of Wreaths Across America and what we’re all about. It’s designed for people to come on... They can look at our storyboards, we have computer monitors set up where they can come on and look at locations across the United States. Or, maybe if they want to sponsor a wreath, they can sponsor a wreath.”
This is the first time the mobile unit has made stops in Texas, according to Brann. Today, the free exhibit will be parked at the Ranch Harley Davidson in College Station till 6 P.M. Saturday. From there, the unit will stop next in Navasota, at VFW Post 4006, with a Vietnam veteran pinning ceremony at 2 P.M., and a wreath-laying ceremony to follow.