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Hundreds expected to gather in DeLeon Plaza for Memorial Day

By JR Ortega
May 21, 2014 at 12:21 a.m.


MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS

To see a list of Memorial Day weekend events planned across the region, turn to page B3.

When in war, it's impossible to forget the things you saw, and though you may want to forget the pain, you'll always want to remember the sacrifice.

This is what Memorial Day is all about, said Peter Riesz, who is one of many in the Victoria County Veterans Council hosting Monday's Memorial Day program.

Anywhere from 200 to 300 people attend the program annually. More and more, Riesz is seeing young people, but he'd like to see more.

"I'm concerned. I don't know if the young folk know what veterans really are," he said. "Veterans did something for this country. We need to put a lot of emphasis on this."

The Crossroads has several thousand veterans, but only about 300 to 500 are active in organizations.

"A lot of guys serve and never mention it again," he said. "I think that it is important to remember those veterans who didn't have a disability or a severe wound. They just did their job."

Riesz, who served nine years in the Army Medical Corps, said this year the Military Order of the World Wars is the organization of the council hosting the program. It changes each year.

The program begins at 7:30 a.m. Monday, with a posting of the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance and the blessing of the flags. By 10:30 a.m., people will assemble at DeLeon Plaza, where they will listen to the greeting and invocation.

The most moving part, Riesz said, is the reading of the names of veterans who have died since the last program. This is followed by the placing of the wreaths.

This year, 27th U.S. District Congressman Blake Farenthold will give the Memorial Day address.

The benediction, firing squad volleys and playing of taps follow.

The program stays the same each year, but sadly, Riesz said, the number of names of the deceased read this year will average about 100.

Frank Torres, an officer for Victoria Disabled American Veterans Chapter 169, said the Memorial Day program is one that should not be ignored.

"I think it's so significant that we take a special day to honor fallen heroes," he said. "Sometimes, we take our veterans for granted."

Like Riesz, Torres said he feels the younger generation needs to learn the stories and understand what war was like in the mid-1900s.

For Torres, the day will always have a special place in his heart.

"Every time I get there and salute the flag, I get choked up," he said, fighting back tears even thinking about it. "I feel so proud standing there serving my flag."

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