National event honoring veterans gets early start at Texas Capitol

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on December 10, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 12 at 11:08 AM

AUSTIN -- Saturday Dec. 15 volunteers from across the state will join in a national tribute to honor fallen veterans. It's called Wreaths Across America.

National pride was on full display on the south steps of the State Capitol Monday.  There was an honor guard, members of the Patriot Guard Riders were there too, along with a kids choir decked out in red white and blue. All were there to kickoff Saturday's Wreaths Across America event.

"We want these holiday wreaths to symbolize our honor to those who have served and to those who are serving in the Armed Forces of our great nation," said David Massey, with the Texas Funeral Directors Association.

Wreaths Across America got started 20 years ago with just a few wreaths placed on some aging gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery. It's now grown to include nearly 300,000 wreaths in more than 500 cemeteries in the United States and beyond.

"I spent two tours of duty in Vietnam flying combat search and rescue," said Mike Lambert with the Patriot Guard Riders of Texas. "Standing up for these veterans means a lot for me."

Monday a single wreath was carried from the south steps of the Capitol to the northeast side and the memorial for disabled veterans. The Funeral Directors Association of Texas is in charge of gathering and providing the wreaths for all six national cemeteries in Texas.

"It's just a very, very small thing that we do here," said Steve Martin, the state coordinator for Wreaths Across America. "We honor these men and women who have spent their time, their blood and their sweat and their lives to protect us and give us the right to do the things that we do here."

Some veterans KVUE spoke to welled up with emotion at the thought of other veterans who will be remembered this Saturday.

"December 15th across the United States, they will have volunteers pick these wreaths up and put them out on the graves of fallen heroes," said U.S. Army Veteran Jerry Rainey. "I think that's just something. That's the best thing we can do."

For more information on Wreaths Across America, click here.

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