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McALLEN — The city here celebrated Memorial Day with a ceremony honoring the 1.4 million service members who gave their lives for the United States at the Texas Veteran War Memorial in McAllen on Monday.
Every flag pole in sight carried a US flag, and despite the sweltering Texas heat pouring down on the memorial, plenty of people, veterans and children endured the weather for the somber ceremony in remembrance of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for the country.
Several canopies provided shade for elderly audience members, veterans and key speakers.
McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos took the podium to welcome everyone involved that morning, reminding attendees about the reasons for the gathering.
“This is something that’s very important,” Villalobos said. “We have parties, we have get-togethers, but the meaning of Memorial Day is to remember the fallen, the people that sacrificed their life for our freedom so that we could have the way of life we have now.”
Before Villalobos began his speech, he asked the audience for a moment of silence for the victims of Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School where 19 children and two teachers were gunned down by an 18-year-old.
And though the moment was brief, the weight of their loss was felt.
Texas Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa spoke after the ceremony about potential solutions that could help stop the multiple mass shootings that the U.S. experiences yearly.
“What’s happening is we want to reform and make changes to the law,” Hinojosa said in Spanish. “Right now, any person looking for a gun can buy one, if anything they should at least be 21 years old. If a person has mental health issues, they shouldn’t be sold firearms.
“And those basic changes should be implemented to take better care of our community.”
The Robb Elementary school shooting victims weren’t the only non-veterans to be recognized during the ceremony. Border Patrol agents, firefighters, police and others were also acknowledged.
At the ceremony, the Alvarez Elementary drumline played multiple sets throughout the event between speeches.
Another student from Nikki Rowe High School, Jacob Patino, also presented a speech titled “What Memorial Day Means” which he wrote for the event.
At the end of the ceremony, Jesse Rodriguez, the master of ceremonies for the event, closed by reminding everyone that the Texas Veteran War Memorial was open 24/7 and welcomed everyone to read the stories of the people who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“It’s probably the only place you can go to at any time, any day, bring a flashlight if it’s at night, and read something from the wall,” Rodriguez said. “And I can assure that whatever was troubling you, may not trouble you that much.
“I want you to enjoy this memorial just the way we all do.”