Every Memorial Day for 32 years, Sue Lindsey has lain a wreath in Victoria in memory of her husband.

Lindsey’s late husband, Gary Lindsey, was a Pearl Harbor survivor. Gary Lindsey, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War, was stationed in Hawaii when the naval base there was attacked.

Lindsey’s husband was returning to the naval base after having the weekend off when he saw red dots across the sky above Pearl Harbor.

Lindsey said he realized then that “they weren’t playing war; it was real war.”

Before he died, Lindsey’s husband asked her to continue to honor and remember survivors of Pearl Harbor, she said.

And she has. Since her husband’s death in 1986, Lindsey has honored her husband and his fellow veterans’ service at Victoria’s Memorial Day ceremony.

This year, like Memorial Days before, Lindsey joined dozens of local veterans and their friends and families to recognize members of the U.S. military who gave their lives while serving. The annual ceremony at DeLeon Plaza recognizes every Victoria County veteran who has served.

During Monday’s ceremony, organized by the Victoria County Veterans Council, the name of every local veteran who has died since Memorial Day 2018 was read aloud. More than 130 names were read this year.

The veterans honored Monday included Delores Johnson, a Port Lavaca native and veteran of the U.S. Army; Patrick Hilmers, a graduate of Patti Welder High School and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps; and Leslie Garcia Jr., a Victoria native and veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

Lt. Col. Richard Arellano, retired from the U.S. Air Force, called on those present to listen to the stories of these veterans. Arellano and his wife went to the cemetery in Nursery on Sunday and placed 50 American flags at the graves of veterans buried there, he said.

“I listened and heard the thanks from each veteran whose graves we visited,” Arellano said. “The breeze was blowing through the pine trees, and except for the cows in the pasture across the street, it was just us honoring the deceased warriors and learning their stories. That’s what Memorial Day is all about.”

Arellano, who served 25 years in the Air Force, urged the public to remember what Memorial Day is truly about: those who have died while serving.

“So today, don’t thank me for my service. You can tell me that tomorrow,” he said. “Today, reserve your thanks for the true heroes: Our fellow veterans who have given their all.”

James Pinn, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force, assisted in Monday’s ceremony by ringing a bell after the deceased veterans’ names were read aloud. Pinn, who served for 20 years, now works at the Crossroads Area Veteran Center.

“A lot of people made the ultimate sacrifice just so we even have the freedom to come out here and celebrate this holiday,” he said. “And just remember those families who don’t have their loved ones here anymore and are still struggling with their loved ones being gone. That’s what we should remember. That’s what this day is all about: remembrance.”


Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at cmccarthy@vicad.com or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara.

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Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can contact her by emailing cmccarthy@vicad.com.

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