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McALLEN — The city’s Veterans War Memorial Committee held their annual Memorial Day ceremony Monday morning at the Texas Veterans War Memorial with Mayor Javier Villalobos and U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz as speakers.
Villalobos welcomed the veterans and their families in attendance and spoke of the importance of Memorial Day and remembering those who have died for their country.
“It’s not just about taking a day off from work,” Villalobos said. “No, Memorial Day is to celebrate, to honor, to remember our fallen heroes and unfortunately, sometimes we don’t do that. So, I’m just here to remind you to talk to your families … to understand what Memorial Day is.”
Villalobos went on to remind the crowd that men and women lost their lives so that the American people could live based on the principles the United States was founded upon.
Veterans in attendance wore articles of clothing identifying the wars they fought in such as the few World War II hats that could be spotted in the crowd. Other event goers and family members wore either red, white or blue or a combination of the three.
De La Cruz followed Villalobos at the podium and gave her perspective on what Memorial Day meant to her as the sister and granddaughter of two veterans in her family.
“Being a part of this beautiful celebration brings tears to my eyes because my grandfather came here with humble beginnings, served this country because he loved her so much and I know he’s looking down from heaven smiling from ear to ear, knowing that his grandson served in the military and now his granddaughter serves as a congresswoman and that just goes to show that anything is possible in this great country,” De La Cruz said.
According to the congresswoman, her brother, Carlos De La Cruz Jr., began his military career in the Air Force at the age of 17 and retired at the age of 37 and is now a small business owner.
De La Cruz said she was proud of Carlos and described him as a symbol of bravery, courage and patriotism.
She added that she’s advocated against the cutting of veterans‘ benefits in regards to the current debt ceiling deal and introduced pieces of legislation, one of which would allow veterans to keep their K-9 once they retire.
Members of the McAllen Wind Ensemble provided live music for the event and played several military classics.
In between the live music and speakers, McAllen’s Las Palmas Ballet Folklorico performed several dances with three groups of dancers, the first being a group of children consisting of three boys and four girls.
The boys tapped their boots on the stone as the girls twirled their dresses in a mesmerizing fashion assisted by the vibrant colors of their skirts.
To conclude the event, a solemn rendition of Amazing Grace was performed on the bagpipes by a member of the McAllen Fire Department Pipe and Drum Corps followed by a reading of a poem entitled ‘Unknown Soldier’s Salute,’ which was printed on the event’s program.
One stanza from the poem reads, “Known only to God, the cost is not free, For the symbol of death is there that we see. Throughout mankind’s history, When death rings a bell, Such tombs do remind us that war is hell.”
To see more, view Monitor photojournalist Joel Martinez’s full photo gallery here: