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Page 10 Medina Valley Times Thursday, June 20, 2013

Medina County Flag Day Ceremony remembers Vietnam veterans Alicia Ramirez Staff Writer In honor of Flag Day, Medina County came together to honor the flag that has been raised for the past 236 years, but to also honor the men and women who have protected that flag overseas. “Today in Medina County, we are making history,” Natalia Mayor Ruby Vera said. “It is June 14, 2013 and nowhere else in the United States has a ceremony of this magnitude been put together and I’m really, really proud of what we are doing here in Medina County today.” The ceremony was held in the Natalia High School gym due to spotty rains throughout the area and all of the speakers honored the

one symbol of America that is recognized throughout the world. “It is the symbol of America and America stands for freedom,” Vera said. “A nation that believes that no matter what your beliefs are, what color your skin, what nationality you are, what religion we believe in, we are

ing this particular ceremony, the honor went to all of the veterans of the Vietnam War. “It is 50 years ago that we entered the Vietnam War and 45 years since the battle of the Tet,” he said. “As we honor our flag, never let us forget what it has taken in the way of sacrifice to keep it flying proudly above our great country and proudly around the world.” F r o m veteran Bill Jones who is now a care specialist at the Bexar Area Agency on Aging for the Alamo Area Council of Governments to Patrick Reilly who has been working to get a sculpture to Austin for permanent display honoring the veterans of Vietnam, those in attendance heard a number of accounts from

"War is brutal and you see evidence of that…but when I left the country, it was the beauty and the awesomeness of the Vietnamese people and the countryside that I brought back with me and it occupies a very special part of my spirit." - Bill Jones one nation.” For County Judge Jim Barden, the honoring of those who have given everything for this country goes hand in hand with the day meant to celebrate the flag that they defended and dur-

Family members of those killed in the Vietnam War received embroidered sashes from the Vietnamese Texan Women Group in honor of the sacrifice that not only the soldier made, but the family's sacrifice as well. (Photo by Alicia Ramirez)

Vietnam veteran Patrick Reilly gives a medal of appreciation and gratitude to Bill Hawkins of Devine for his service during the Vietnam War. Reilly gave the medal to all Vietnam veterans in the audience before they received their sashes from the Vietnamese delegation. (Photo by Alicia Ramirez) the war. “When we were working the night shift, we heard mortar fire from the perimeter…but we found out the following morning that the perimeter had been breached and that there had been folks dispatched to quell the intrusion,” Jones said. “We survived that night and we survived many more attacks and when it all subsided, I had an opportunity to go out into the countryside. War is brutal and you see evidence of that…but when I left the country, it was the beauty and the awesomeness of the Vietnamese people and the countryside that I brought back with me and it occupies a very special part of my spirit.” As a part of the ceremony, a contingent of South Vietnamese from Houston

and some delegates from a South Vietnamese organization in Austin were in attendance and honored the men of Medina County who lost their lives during the war handing out sashes to family members. Along with recognition from the Vietnamese delegations in the audience for the ceremony, letters from Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Rick Perry were read along with a resolution from Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and proclamations from Medina County and the city of Natalia. For Reilly, the recognition of the Vietnam veterans and their service to the country is long overdue. “Because of the war at home, we did not come back as heroes,” he said. “Our

hard earned victory became a cry for defeatism, which resulted in stolen valor.” Reilly said he remembered the flight back home from the war where the wounded on the plane sat in silence, even when the flight attendant prompted that they should be cheering and celebrating. “She did not know what we already knew, that our war had just begun and it was going to be a very tough fight,” he said. The ceremony ended with all veterans in attendance feeling honored and supported for their roles in the war, 50 years after it began. “Gentlemen, there are no words that I can say other than thank you for what you have done for this country,” Vera said.


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