KILLEEN, Texas — Under the early afternoon Texas sun, you can find Terrance Sateren as he surveys the landscape of the Killeen City Cemetery ahead of Wreaths Across America Day, a chance for Americans to lay a wreath at the grave of a veteran.
"They did their job. They did their service for us and now I feel it is my time to give them respect," Sateren said.
A veterans' wreath is very particular and carries an abundance of meaning. It has 10 Balsam Bouquets which represents 10 special qualities that veterans embody.
The Evergreen it is made with symbolizes longevity and endurance, great sacrifice is represented by a red bow at the top and the scent of the wreath is indicative of purity and simplicity and the circular shape represents eternity.
Candace Laguna with Blue Star Families said her husband is a veteran. She said a forgotten cemetery like the Killeen City Cemetery is heartbreaking.
"I don't want him forgotten," she said of her husband. "It's sad because these are our fellow brothers and sisters in arms and we're not rallying around them."
Many organizations have come together to honor veterans through Wreaths Across America including Blue Star Families, American Heritage Girls, Heart of Texas Bass Anglers and Texas Friends of NRA to name a few. American Military University donated 1,000 wreaths this year.
Sateren, who said he has laid wreaths for four years, has 1,240 wreaths to lay at the graveside of fallen heroes this year and with 1,600 soldiers interned there. He knows some won't get one but said they aren't any less thought of.
"We are not giving up the fight," Sateren said of making people aware of the veterans always forgotten. "People don't realize that veterans are buried in other places besides the states and national cemeteries. The small cemeteries need to be recognized because they do have fallen veterans that are interned there."
On Saturday at 11 a.m., there will be a ceremony and a wreath event at the Killeen City Cemetery located on East Rancier Avenue.
"I'll probably end up crying," he said when asked his emotions on Saturday if the people show up to help and pay their respects. "It will just mean the community is starting to respond and the more they respond, the more recognition this cemetery is getting."
Tears because those who have long been forgotten will finally be remembered in a small Killeen cemetery full of war heroes who gave all of us our freedom.
"The men and women who chose to make Killeen their home and be buried here alongside their brothers and sisters or family members and cousins, they are here and we want to remember them," added Laguna.
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