Trail of Lights honors military, law enforcement

By Shannon Murray, KVUE

Photo: Trail of Lights Heroes Night honors military and law enforcement (Photo: KVUE)

AUSTIN -- It was a special celebration at the Trail of Lights Tuesday for Heroes Night.

Under a canopy of colors men and women proudly carried the red, white and blue flag through the trail.

Trail of Lights honors military, law enforcement KVUE

"It's spectacular! You look at the millions of lights, I don't know how many there are – millions! It really is beautiful," said WWII veteran Mort Sheffloe, who served in Normandy in 1944.

Many at the trail Tuesday were military veterans who served overseas.

"Vietnam three trips and served some time in Japan, in the Philippines and that's just about it," said Marine veteran James Green.

Others who attended Heroes Night are currently serving in Austin.

"It allows people to take their guard down, show their human side and it's just great. We just love it," said Jessica Robledo, assistant police chief in Austin.

"I think it's beautiful, I think they are taking good care of us World War II Honor Flight Veterans," Sheffloe said.

Trail of Lights Heroes Night honors military and law enforcement (Photo: KVUE)

An Austin tradition for 50 years, the Trail of Lights is a time to come together and celebrate the holidays. On Tuesday, it was also about celebrating those who fought for our freedom.

"Well, it humbles one to have someone come up and say 'thank you for your service,'" Sheffloe said.

"The level of appreciation and just that sincere gratitude that they're showing us it's just, it's humbling, it's humbling," AC Robledo said.

Walking with their families, many donned their badges and lead the crowd through the trail.

"It gives us something to look forward to and also admire that someone is recognizing us," Green said. "I'm really glad I came."

Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst attended the ceremony to give thanks to the heroes.

The trail also played host to another hero. Alicia Kozakiewicz spoke for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Trail of Lights (Photo: KVUE)

She shared her story of being lured online, kidnapped and raped at 13 years old. The FBI rescued her, and Tuesday, she thanked the officers who played a part in her rescue. She now travels the country speaking to parents and children about Internet safety.

"This happened on Jan. 1, 2002, and when it happened, Christmas lights were still up, and the trees were still in people's windows, so the holidays are quite a reminder," she said. "But it's so great to be here, really, to fight against and to work to make sure that this doesn't happen to other children, and that's where this has become therapeutic to me."

She recommends parents put monitoring software on their child's computer and phone. For more information visit