Local families honor fallen soldiers together

For over a decade, families in Central Texas have gathered at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery to lay wreaths in November, and then reconvened in January to pick them back up.

For one family, however, this year was different thanks to an unlikely meeting.

Karey Pierce lost her brother-in-law, Cpt. Christoper Petty, in 2006. He was killed in Iraq.

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So, last November, she laid wreaths at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery to honor her fallen brother-in-law and all the other soldiers.

"Freedom isn't free and we have to appreciate that and we have to say thank you," Pierce said.

Saturday, she joined others, including Maj. Gen. John Thomson, in picking up the wreaths laid last November.

Maj. Gen. Thomson has served several years in Iraq and lost plenty of soldiers along the way. Like Pierce, the commanding general returns every year to partake in laying wreaths, pick them back up months later, and honor those whose faces are memorialized at the cemetery.

But little did either of them know, one of those faces was someone they both loved.

Capt. Petty is not only the brother-in-law of Karey Pierce, but also was one of Maj. Gen. Thomson's soldiers.

"(Petty) was smart, he was the fire direction officer for the 4th infantry division artillery," Thomson said.

And when Thomson asked Pierce who she was there to pay respects to, the two shared an emotional moment -- a bond -- that took their breath away.

See the moment below:

Had it not been for a tradition, a wreath, and a photograph, the two may never have met.

Now, every time Pierce returns to the cemetery, she'll have a new memory to share of the beloved soldier she -- and Maj. Gen. Thomson -- lost more than a decade ago.

Nearly 8,000 wreaths were picked up by volunteers on Saturday, and one brand new friendship was born as well.