Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wreaths Across America

What an emotional and satisfying day December 11 was! We volunteered to assist with the laying of the wreaths on the graves of 26, 249 veterans at the Houston National Cemetery. This fourth annual laying of the wreaths is sponsored by Wreaths Across America, Houston. There are several corporation sponsors as well and we tagged along with our daughter's company. Shuttles are provided from a local northside mall as parking at the cemetery is limited.
We thought we had arrived early, but found when we entered the National Cemetery that we were late! The streets surrounding were lined with cars, trucks, buses and other shuttle vehicles.
The sight of numerous American flags flapping in the strong southerly breeze swells ones heart and soul.
We stood aside as a cadet corp stepped off their bus to march in precision to the ceremony location.
At the entrance of the Hemi-cycle, the Lone Star flag flew at half staff along with the American flag. Your heart beats a little faster when you see all those in attendance--motorcycle vets, every nationality, young and old alike--all in attendance to pay honor to those who have given their lives for our freedom.
Before the start of the official ceremony, the United States Honor Flag was proudly displayed. Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, a flag was gifted to Chris Heisler by the Texas House of Representatives. Like many Americans, Heisler felt compelled to take action during a horrific time for the United States, and with this flag in tow, he set out for Ground Zero. Along the way, Heisler helped to organize one of the longest police motorcades in the history of the United States, bound for Ground Zero bringing many tokens of support together with other agencies, to our nation's Heroes. Since September 2001, the United States Honor Flag has paid tribute to those who have lost their lives in the line of duty protecting our lives, our homes and our country, and also those who currently serve our communities and our nation.
The Honor Network was founded on the conviction that every person who is committed in service to our communities and country deserves the support of every single American, and that an increase in American patriotism is vital in keeping our great nation united. We passed the Honor Flag vehicle as we walked into the ceremony area. Presentation of colors by Kingwood High School NJROTC.
St. Thomas Episcopal Pipe band member played "Amazing Grace"--giving one 'goose bumps'.
The parade of flags lined the entrance of the Thomas Circle. Presentation of Wreaths placed by WWII veterans from the US Army, US Navy, US Coast Guard, US Navy, US Merchant Marines, US Air Force, US Marine Corps and POW/MIA. The ceremony begun with invocation and continued with National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance; a 21 gun salute and echo taps brought tears to ones eyes as we remember. Then it was time to lay the wreaths.
We went to our staging area to gather our wreaths. Here daughter and granddaughter take their wreaths from grandpa.
Laying a wreath on WWI soldier grave site, you take a moment to straighten the bow, step back, say their name and a word of prayer (if you so chose) before walking to the next grave site.
The sight of many pausing as they laid their wreaths was awesome!
It was a day peaked with tears of sadness, thoughts of lost ones and reflection of why we were there. Next year, maybe we can lay wreaths on 50,000 grave sites--now, wouldn't that be fulfilling tribute?!

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