The holidays are upon us and for Central Texas, it’s time to place wreaths on all the graves in the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
The non-profit organization, Friends of the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, started Wreaths for Vets in 2006 and laid over 300 wreaths at the cemetery. Since then that number has grown to over 12,000 and it’s all thanks to donations and volunteers.
”Thousands of people. It’s taken that over the years to make this happen and we’re determined that it will go on for generations to come,” said Jean Shine, president and founder of Friends of The Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery and Wreaths for Vets.
Donations fund the effort and volunteers, like Vietnam Veteran George Hendershot, help prep the wreaths and place them at the cemetery.
”It’s an honor and a privilege to help support them. We've done for the last 5 to 10 years since it’s been in existence. It means a lot because we have fallen brothers out there,” said George Hendershot, Vietnam Veteran and chapter president of In Country Motorcycle Club.
The over 12,000 wreaths needed this year are stored and transported in two semi-truck trailers.
The problem is, with hundreds of people laid to rest there every year that means, hundreds of more wreaths need to be stored and there simply isn’t enough room in the trailers.
”We’re looking for another trailer but just like all commodities, trailers are being used longer. They're in service longer than they typically would have been. If you can find a use one, it’s not in very good shape,” said Cyd West, Treasurer of Friends of The Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery and Wreaths for Vets.
In fact, they have been searching for over a year for the right kind of trailer that they can also afford.
”We can’t just take any of the trailers, it has to be a specific kind because we do a lot of welding. Outfitting that trailer costs as much as the trailer. We have to do a lot of welding and preparation to be able to do it the way we want it,” said Shine.
But even with the setbacks, they are pressing on with the time-honored tradition of honoring our Nation’s heroes.
”Showing our soldiers today, that we will never forget what they do for our country, what they give up for our country,” said Shine.
While they are raising money to help purchase a new trailer, they also need volunteers to help them prep the wreaths this weekend and lay them at the cemetery next Thanksgiving weekend.