Killeen, Browning garden clubs hold wreath-laying ceremony for Veterans day
By DAVID J. HARDIN
This past Saturday November 11, the Killeen Garden Club and the Browning Community Garden Club of Kempner met alongside the service road of Highway 190 near Clear Creek Road to lay a wreath at the Blue Star Memorial Marker in honor of Veterans Day.
The Blue Star Marker was installed at that location in 1992, and over the past several years, these clubs have maintained the memorial and its surrounding area by cleaning it and planting seeds.
Kathy Abilez is with the Killeen Garden Club, and made the presentation of laying the wreath during the ceremony.
“We come here each year to lay a wreath to honor our veterans, and after the ceremony we plant bluebonnet and poppy seeds. This year we are planting white flower seeds. This memorial was placed here because of a joint effort between garden clubs in the area, the Killeen Garden Club, Browning Community Garden Club, the Kempner Garden Clubs Inc, Copperas Cove Garden Club, and the Texas Department of Transportation. The Copperas Cove and Kempner Garden Clubs no longer exist,” said Abilez, although there are a number of Copperas Cove residents who currently belong to the Browning Community Garden Club.
Elaine Passman has been involved with the Killeen Garden Club for about 12 years; she also served in the Army.
“Being a veteran myself I appreciate what they have done and how they are honoring veterans especially in this area,” said Passman. “We are working at this time to get another Blue Star Memorial out at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.”
Stan Passman was on hand for the wreath ceremony. He served in the Army for 21 years, served during the Vietnam War as a paratrooper, and spent most of his military career at Fort Hood.
“It is great that people come together and recognize our veterans every year in this way, because when I and my other fellow soldiers returned from Vietnam, we were not treated well, and people did not appreciate us,” said Passman.
MSG Frank Huereque gave a speech during the ceremony about the sacrifice and service that all past and present veterans have made and recognized all who are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Huereque is about to retire from the Army, and when he does he will have served for 20 years.
“This is my first time being involved with this event, but my wife Monica has been involved with the garden clubs for years, and she asked me to speak at this event, and I was not quite sure what this was. I have been stationed off and on at Fort Hood since 2009. I like living in Texas; it is my home,” said Huereque. “I am happy that they do this each year and recognize the sacrifice of our veterans and military personnel, and I don’t want people to forget. I am happy to be able to share the message with others especially the youth about what it means to be a veteran and serve in the United States military.”
The Blue Star Memorial Program was adopted by the National Council of State Garden Clubs in 1945. The Blue Star Highway system covers thousands of miles across the Continental United States, Hawaii, and Alaska. A large metal Blue Star Memorial Highway Marker is placed at appropriate locations along the way.
The program started with the planting of 8,000 dogwood trees by the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs in 1944, as a living memorial to veterans of World War II.
The program has expanded today to include all men and women who had served, were serving, and who would serve in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial and byway markers were added to the highway markers, to be used as locations such as National cemeteries, parks, veterans’ facilities and gardens.