Officials honor Vietnam vets with remembrance ceremony

BROWNSVILLE — Valor. Courage. Sacrifice.

Brownsville Fire Chief Carlos Elizondo said these are the three words associated with a soldier.

To have valor is to have the initiative to join the cause. To have courage is to take the initiative to fight for those you do not know and to have a willingness to pay “the ultimate price.”

“With these three words, we remember all those that are veterans of war,” Elizondo said.

Numerous officials attended the 50th anniversary remembrance ceremony for the fallen in Vietnam on Friday afternoon at Hanna Early College High School. The event was hosted by the Warriors United in Arms.

Among them was state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, who said one of his greatest regrets was not joining his friends in the military. He was drafted as a young teacher, but the superintendent at the time had him stay behind before he boarded the bus.

His father was a veteran. Many people he knew — classmates, friends and students — went to fight in the war. Not all of them came back.

“Every time I read the paper, I would see the people I went to school with, and even students of mine, and being a very emotional man, I cried,” Lucio said.

Interim-Principal Norma Ibarra-Cantu said the memories of the 28 soldiers who died would live on.

“Never forget these men who gave up their future, their dreams,” Ibarra-Cantu said. “Their memories will certainly live on through the future of our kids.”

To the students in the audience, the events of Vietnam are history. But for the veterans sitting up front, it was a reality, Lucio said.

“I don’t pretend to know what you all went through, but what you saw, what you heard and what you felt cannot be compared to,” Lucio said to the veterans.

Area Assistant Superintendent Teri Alarcon recalled her father’s words at the ceremony.

“’These were my buddies, and you can never forget what they did,’” Alarcon said. “He told the stories of when they came back and they were not honored.”

Appreciate the opportunities you are given, Lucio said to the students.

“I sincerely hope that you learn from their example. Learn integrity and learn from adversity,” Lucio said. “Because it’s in those days, hours, minutes of need of hardship that we find what we’re made of.”