Goliad veterans honored for their service
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The crowd in Goliad's Courthouse Square on Friday morning ranged from babies in strollers to the residents of La Bahia Nursing and Rehab.
Varon Houck sat in the front row, quietly watching the Boy and Girl Scouts of America lead the veterans in the Pledge of Allegiance, his hand on his heart.
Houck, 101, served in the Navy during World War II. "I think I'm about the oldest one in Goliad," said Houck, smiling.
He was honored at the Goliad Veterans Day Ceremony for being the oldest veteran in Goliad.
"I think we ought to celebrate it," Houck said about Veterans Day. "I didn't do very much, but I think we ought to celebrate it."
Houck could not remember how long he was in the military, but his niece, Rosie Perry, said it was about 20 years.
"He was in for as long as I can remember, because I wasn't very big ... I have so many pictures of him in the Navy suit while he was young," she said, attending the ceremony to honor her uncle, a Goliad native, and the other veterans.
"I just think it is very important," Perry said. "The men who have served all this time and some of them got killed - I feel like we should honor that."
Yolanda Gutierrez, of Fannin, agreed. She has put on the program, originally in nursing homes, for the past 25 years.
She said it has grown tremendously since she started, especially since JoAnn Ybarbo, Goliad County's veteran services officer, got involved four years ago.
Ybarbo, a 31-year veteran of the Air Force, suggested they move the ceremony to the square to get more involvement from the community.
Friday's service included performances from Goliad High School band and the Choir Boys of Beeville, involvement from the National Guard and Region IV Honor Guard and guest speakers Lt. Col. Mark H. Stroman of the U.S. Marine Corps and retired Chief Gunner's Mate Clarence Robinson of the U.S. Navy, a Goliad native.
Gutierrez said her next goal is to get all Goliad school district students to the ceremony.
"It is so important for them to know," Gutierrez said. "Hopefully, we can have more kids out here; they are our future veterans."
Becky Martinez, who works at Hospice of South Texas, took the time off work to come to the ceremony.
"I have a son serving active duty in Afghanistan right now and my husband served in Vietnam," Martinez said. "We need to recognize them for the sacrifices they make for our freedom."
She said the stress of military life is hard for the families, too.
"It is a worry you have that never goes away. I mean, you have to function ... but it is always in the back of your mind," she said about worrying for her son.
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