Victoria gathers to honor veterans
Nov. 11, 2010 at 5:11 a.m.
Updated Nov. 12, 2010 at 5:12 a.m.
Bruno Valderrama had his hands full Thursday.
While the right hand clutched a large American flag, his left supported a homemade banner, complete with photos of relatives who served in the military.
"There are four generations on here," said Valderrama, a Vietnam War veteran. "The oldest is 80 years old. I'm on there, too."
Valderrama was among the hundreds of people who gathered around the Victoria Community Center to celebrate Veterans Day.
A 10 a.m. parade included floats from veterans groups, marching bands and dance groups.
A group of Boy Scouts handed out copies of the U.S. Constitution, while floats featuring tiara-clad representatives from local pageants made their way past the crowd.
The excitement proved too much for tiny Hadley Schrank, a 2-month-old who snoozed through the parade.
"Her dad was holding the American Legion flag at the beginning," Hadley's mother, Heather Schrank, said, smiling at the infant in patriotic colors. "But she's out."
The parade is a tradition for Gloria Garcia and her daughter, Monica Hysquierdo. They attend each year with Garcia's father, Candelario Garcia.
Candelario Garcia, 83, served in Germany during World War II. On Thursday, he was greeted with salutes from other veterans who passed by his wheelchair.
Garcia said she was proud to honor her father and others who served in the military.
"This is the least we can do," she said.
The parade was the largest in eight years, said Marvin Lockhart, the event coordinator. It boasted 70 entries and seven bands. An estimated 600 to 800 people attended the parade.
"I'll just be glad when the parade is downtown again," he said, explaining the Catholic school children who don't have the day off get a chance to step outside and watch the festivities.
Veterans groups laid down commemorative wreaths during the post-parade ceremony in front of the community center and patriotic tunes mingled with the morning breeze.
State Rep. Geanie Morrison, the ceremony's keynote speaker, said she was proud to see veterans standing alongside children and grandchildren in the audience. Veterans Day is not only a day to remember troops, but also a chance to teach future generations what it means to be an American, she said.
Americans are blessed, she said, because we live in a country that allows each person to have a voice.
"I say we are blessed because it takes an extraordinary group of men and women to protect that voice, as well as many other freedoms that millions around the world do not share with us," Morrison said. "As we celebrate this Veterans Day, I hope each of you will take a moment to pray for the safe return of men and woman all around the world who, once again, have fearlessly answered the call to arms."
As for Valderrama, he wasn't alone. His wife, Mary Valderrama, and daughter, Marisol Valderrama, also celebrated his service.
"We're very proud," Marisol Valderrama said. "This is his day."
To see more Veterans Day Parade photos, please go to www.victoriaadvocate.com/veterans