HOUSTON -- In fog at dawn on Saturday, volunteers trickled in -- some driving trucks, others riding bikes. All to cover graves as part of the annual Wreaths Across America at the Houston National Cemetery.
Some 40,000 fallen veterans were about to get something more remarkable than stone.
“It was honestly a very touching experience because just getting to...I don’t know... it’s almost unexplainable,” Lindy Hockaday, a volunteer, said.
“It feels like we’re close to them, and it feels good in my heart,” Zoë Hockaday, another volunteer, added.
It started with bagpipes, patriotic colors, KHOU 11 News Anchor Len Cannon at the mic and crowds larger than years past waiting to see them.
Donated wreaths proudly placed by veterans in Houston National Cemetery’s rotunda. Then, followed by thousands outside, and smaller children reading veterans’ names aloud.
“I feel a lot of respect flowing through me personally and grieving for the veterans that are here,” Michael Sotter, a volunteer, said.
“They fought for our country. They did a thing that most people today wouldn’t do, you know. They stood for something they believed in,” Demetric Brown, a volunteer, said.
Mavini Thornhill and her two daughters were visiting Darlene Gray’s headstone -- she was a friend and fellow soldier.
“Her family no longer lives in the Houston area, and we want to make sure that she’s remembered,” Thornhill said.
It’s not just Gray. Volunteers want every fallen warrior honored.
“We can’t give back to these kids anything more than honor. That’s it. They’ve given it all,” veteran Carson George said.
It’s only fair they get something in return, something evergreen like pride that won’t change.
All of the wreaths will remain in place for a month. However, ask any family involved and they say the impact will last a lifetime.