by Steve Walker
Tomorrow we celebrate Memorial Day. As we all know it is a US federal holiday for the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces and are remembered for their service to our county.
For those who are unaware, the holiday, formerly known as Decoration Day, is celebrated every year on the final Monday of May. It originated after the American Civil War commemorated the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.
By the 20th century, Memorial Day was extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.
Here in San Antonio better known as "Military City" residents go all out to honor our country’s local deceased war heroes, survivors and those who continue to serve in the military all over the world.
The Edgewood ISD and the Edgewood High School Class of 1967 will co-host one of the largest Memorial Day ceremonies in San Antonio. The 29th Annual Memorial Ceremony begins with a musical prelude at 9:30 a.m. followed by ceremonies at the Edgewood Veteran’s Stadium formerly known as the Frank Mata Stadium. The stadium is located at 1650 W. Thompson Place behind Kennedy High School. Guest Speakers include: US. Army Colonel Pedro Lucero, Navy Petty Officer Mario Longoria and US Air Force (Ret.) Lieutenant Colonel Nora Alpizar.
The Edgewood Class of 1967 has the dubious distinction of losing more graduates as casualties in the Viet Nam War than any other high school in the San Antonio Metroplex.
As a Vietnam Veteran myself, (70-71) that means something to me personally of those that I knew who died in combat to include an 8th grade classmate of mine, Miguel Najar from St. Gregory’s Catholic School in 1960. San Antonio has a long history of patriotic young men and women of all colors and ethnic backgrounds willing to serve the best interests of our nation in a time of war or peace. I alternately attend the Edgewood ceremony one year and Fort Sam Houston the next.
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery will simultaneously present their Memorial Day program at the assembly area on the cemetery’s east side. That ceremony hosts Congressmen, VIPs, student choirs, ROTC members, active duty personnel, family members who have lost loved ones to war and many others commemorating our fallen heroes. That service is well attended and open to the public.
Historically on Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. The flag is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.
The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
Never forgetting our fallen heroes we are reminded by the words of the National Anthem.
“O say can you see by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming. Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming. And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there; O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
And as always, I write “Just a Thought.”
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Judge and Journalist