Thousand gather to honor veterans with wreaths

AUSTIN, TX (KTBC) - Thousands of people fought the cold and the rain to remember and honor the fallen on Saturday.

The sacred ground of the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery is the final resting place for over 6,500 men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice.

"We live today for what they did for us." United States Army General Michael A. Bills said, "We are able to move on and continue on living in freedom because of what they've done."

A wreath now rests on the gravestones of each of those fallen. It serves not only as a tribute to their sacrifice but to their families as well.

"We want the families to know that we are here for them," Jean Shine, President of the Friends of the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, said "and that wreath is our way of saying thank you to that solider, to that family member, thank you for sacrificing for our country."

Andrew Ortiz drove over an hour to join his mother in remembering his father, a Vietnam veteran.

"He was always about family and Christmas of course is about family, " Ortiz said, "so this is kind of a way to bring us together with him and it's just a nice moment just to reflect on my father again ."

Ortiz said his father died two years ago after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, however that did not stop his infectious smile from shining bright.

"No matter the situation he always tried to make it funny. That's still how I remember him with a big smirk on his face," Ortiz said.

The wreaths will remain on the gravestones until January leaving plenty of time for those who lost and those who want to simply say thank you to the thousands of men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.