Tuesday, January 16, 2018
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20171109 Veterans War Memorial.GU IMG 4319

American Spire Of Honor
The American Spire of Honor stands at the center of Veteran's War Memorial of Texas.

At the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was agreed to in 1918, ending World War I. That moment, 99 years ago, was called Armistice Day and subsequently in 1919 became a solemn, patriotic occasion honoring all those Americans who fought in what was called “The Great War.” It became a national observance in 1938.

On June 1, 1954, the U.S. Congress changed the word “Armistice” in the 1938 law to “Veterans” and urged the nation to additionally honor those on Nov. 11 who served during World War II and the Korean Conflict. And now, the national holiday honors all those who have been in military service.

This month many communities in the Rio Grande Valley will be honoring the veterans in their communities with programs along with a few parades. Citizens are encouraged to attend a program along with all military veterans.

Veterans War Memorial of Texas

20171109 Veterans War Memorial.GU IMG 4448

World War I
This bronze relief is just one of dozens of granite and bronze walls at the Veterans War Memorial of Texas in McAllen that bring to life the history of our hard-fought wars and the heroes who defended freedom.

One of the first programs will be in McAllen at the Veterans War Memorial of Texas at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10, which will feature those who served during World War II. There will be a special section for the WWII vets as part of the recognition. There are slightly more than a half-million WWII veterans still alive, according to Jan Hartzog, war memorial publicity director. The program is being held a day earlier than usual to allow for school children to be bused to the 3.5-acre event site off 29th Street, just north of Expressway 83.

Singer Stephen Lopez will open the program with the National Anthem. The college student, who has been singing at the Veterans Day program since he was eleven, will later offer another musical selection from the 1940s war era. The McAllen High School Band and Choir will be providing special music including songs from the 40s. The RGV Quilting Guild will be represented by the Green Bee Quilt group from Green Gate Grove in Mission, with members presenting an honor quilt to a veteran.

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling will be the keynote speaker. Retired Army Col. Frank Plummer, who was instrumental in establishing the war memorial nearly 20 years ago, is expected to speak about plans for the new “Pathway for Life,” which will be composed of engraved bricks and pavers containing the history of WWII veterans and their families. The pathway is to be located in front of a new Children’s Plaza of American history where there will be 38 walls of stories written by children involving historic moments.

Alamo Program

20171109 Alamo Veterans Memorial Opening 2017 PHOTOAlamo’s program begins at 9 a.m. Saturday and will be held at the Veterans Memorial Plaza, which was dedicated a year ago, and is located adjacent to Farias Elementary School on Alamo Road.

The family of Army Sgt. Fernando De La Rosa, who died in a roadside bombing on Oct. 27, 2009 in Afghanistan and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, will be guests of honor. The family is to receive an honor quilt made by the Sew Sew Sisters from Royal Palms Park in Alamo. Keynote speaker for the occasion is Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia. The PSJA Memorial High School Jr. ROTC color guard is scheduled to participate along with a high school choir.

Pharr Parade

In Pharr, a parade is planned for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday that starts at the corner of Polk Avenue and goes south on Cage Boulevard to PSJA Stadium. A program following the parade will be held at the American Legion Hall of Post 101, located on Cage Boulevard. Later, around 7 p.m., a fireworks display will be launched from the grounds of Liberty Middle School, 1212 South First St.

San Benito Parade and Ceremony

San Benito has a full morning of activities on Saturday to honor women in the military, starting with an 8:50 a.m. parade that is expected to include many school children marching along the route from City Hall to the Veterans War Memorial, 151 Rowson St. Leading the parade down Sam Houston Boulevard will be the San Benito High School Jr. ROTC.

The ceremony honoring veterans will follow with La Encantada Elementary students performing the “National Anthem” and “God Bless America.” Keynote speaker is to be Janice Whitehead, a Vietnam-era veteran, who served as a U.S. Army nurse and then continued in a civilian life career as a pediatric nurse. Other women military veterans to be featured include Edith Clark and Laura Vela.

One of the best known local women in the military is Wilma “Dolly” Vinsant Shea, a World War II flight nurse and after whom the Dolly Vinsant Memorial Hospital was named when it opened in San Benito in 1949. The San Benito native enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in 1942 and after rigorous training was sent to England in early 1943 where she flew on evacuation flights of wounded soldiers back to England from battle zones in Europe. Sometimes she flew between England and the U.S. with her the only medical person on board to tend the wounded. On her final sortie beyond the allotted maximum hazardous-flight quota, the evacuation plane with wounded Americans on board was shot down over Germany on April 14, 1945. The lieutenant, who received a number of medals including a posthumous Purple Heart and a special citation from President Truman, was buried in a U.S. Military Cemetery in the Netherlands.

Harlingen Program

In Harlingen, a program is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday at the War Memorial in Pendleton Park, 1425 Morgan Blvd., which will also pay special tribute to women in the military. The keynote speaker will be Chief Petty Officer Teresita Garcia from the U.S. Naval Reserve, and Lenore Combs, who served with the U.S. Air Force. The ceremony will include a combined color guard of veterans carrying flags of the different military branches. Veterans attending also will be recognized during the music for each service group.

Marine Military Academy Parade

The Marine Military Academy, 320 Iwo Jima Blvd., near Harlingen International Airport, will be staging a full-dress parade in honor of veterans at 10 a.m. Saturday on the Battalion Grounds. Immediately following the parade’s conclusion, a flag retirement ceremony will be held behind the famed Iwo Jima statue.

Brownsville’s observance was marked by a parade last Saturday. Carlos Cascos was the selected marshal for the Southmost Veterans Parade. A luncheon was served for the area’s honorees and veterans.

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