At FMC Elementary in Beeville, the youths listened as the choir sang patriotic songs and learned why they should appreciate those who served in the military.
Becky Ochoa, commander of the American Legion, said during the Beeville Garden Club’s ceremony at Veterans Memorial Stadium, “It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
“It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of press.
“It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
“It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
“It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right the vote.”
Numerous veterans spoke during this 45-minute ceremony.
State Rep. José Aliseda, guest speaker, said, “Today America honors its heroes.
“Ten years ago I addressed a crowd and I made the observation that freedom isn’t free.
“It is paid for by the blood of our patriots.
“The crowd looked at me because I said we are going to have to prepare to send our children to war.
“We have a lot of young men and women over there. I know myself at the time I had two sons who were in the ROTC program and I didn’t know I would be letting them go off to war.”
Aliseda paused a moment. His voice was then changing, choked up as he thought about his boys.
“So would y’all please rise,” he called to the veterans in the audience. “These are our patriots.”
His message didn’t stop there.
He called upon the other parents in the audience whose sons and daughters were of the age to join the military.
“I would encourage you, if you have children thinking about service in the military, to encourage them,” he said. “It was a very difficult thing for my wife and me to send our boys off to war. But it has to be done.”
Ochoa also took a moment to salute those veterans who didn’t make it back from the wars.
“As we honor the more than one million American men and women who have given their lives for their country since our nation’s founding, our debt to these Americans can never be repaid, but our gratitude and respect must last forever.
“For many veterans, our nation was important enough to endure long separations from their families, miss births of their children, freeze in subzero temperatures, bake in wild jungles, lose limbs and, far too often, lose their lives.
“Through their blood and sacrifice, veterans have given us freedom, security and the greatest nation on earth.
“We must appreciate them and remember them.”
Joe Richard Rodriguez, with the Vietnam Veterans of America Tomas Gonzales Chapter 929, said, “We have but a few days of the year in which we gather to honor our veterans.
“There are many people who celebrate this day because it is a federal holiday, a day off from work.
“Veterans Day is a day we honor and thank all of our veterans for their service to our country, whereas Memorial Day... is still set aside as a day to remember and honor our men and women who died for the service of our country.
“Whether it is Veterans Day or Memorial Day, we owe our veterans a debt that can never be repaid. We must continue to remember and honor their sacrifices.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.