Cadet effort honors vets

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There was no rush.

With measured paces and careful steps, the young members of the Gregg County Composite Squadron moved between the burial plots.

Wreaths in hand, the youths searched for the graves of soldiers buried in Kilgore City Cemetery. At each, they paused a solemn moment and placed their green, red-ribboned memorial on the headstone.

The cadets stood to attention, saluted and spoke the soldier's name.

It's an honor, Sgt. David Applewhite says, a privilege to take the time to recognize those who gave of themselves for their country and, especially, to remember those no longer here.

"We’re here today to honor Kilgore veterans who gave their all," he said Saturday.

Kilgore's second annual Wreaths Across America memorial began at the Harris Street War Veterans Monument as veterans first laid wreaths in honor of each branch of the service – Navy, Army, Air Forces, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the Merchant Marines – in addition to one for Missing In Action / Prisoners of War.

Gregg County Composite Squadron Cadets served as the day's Color Guard and, amid the National Anthem from Mitzi Buck Hartfiel and "Taps" from squadron member Jadon Cherry, Applewhite memorialized Kilgore natives who died in the service of their country.

“They were greatly missed and still are. Today we have the honor of laying a ceremonial wreath on their graves in Kilgore Cemetery."

Numerous volunteers – young scouts, other children and adults – helped the squadron lay the individual wreaths. More than 600 now adorn local veterans graves during the holidays.

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