HARLINGEN – She stared proudly, almost angrily into the crowd, her face stern as her tiny clenched fists emphasized eve-ry word.
“The US flag should never be used as a forum for protest over any perceived injustices,” said Master Sgt. Nioni Ledezma, a sophomore in Harlingen High School’s JROTC.
Ledezma was giving one of several passionate speeches at yesterday’s Harlingen High School Veterans Day Ceremony 2017 in the school’s gymnasium. The event was an elaborate ceremony in which dozens of veterans of all ages were hon-ored with speeches, musical performances, and solemn observances involving the ROTC’s color guard and honor guard.
Honored veterans appreciated the observance.
Moses Mendoza, 62, was especially impressed with Ledezma’s delivery.
“Veterans are only that one percent of the total population in the U.S.,” said Mendoza, a retired US Army first sergeant and veteran of Desert Storm.
Three members of the ROTC even presented a skit about Veteran’s Day.
“I really miss him, mom, he was a great man,” said ROTC Capt. Kristal Gaytan, 17 as she walked toward her grieving mother.
“I miss him too,” said the mother played by Angelika Guare, 16.
The daughter is grieving the death of her father who was a medic in the military, but she’s brought her own daughter to learn more about the fallen veteran.
“Do you know what day this is?” asks Guare to her granddaughter played by ROTC 2nd Lt. Jessie Hinojosa, 16.
“It’s my birthday,” answers the young girl.
Angelika, the grandmother says, “In two days it’s Veterans Day” and then explains its meaning.
While some parts of the ceremony were very solemn, others were more festive. Three choir students performed as the An-drews Sisters, a popular musical group from the 1930s and 1940s.
“He was a famous trumpet man from out Chicago way … he had a boogie style that no one else could play,” sang Mary Kate Holder, 16, Jessica Valdez, 17, and Bianca Lopez, 16. The three singers had managed to resurrect the movements of the legendary singers very well, bringing back a bygone era.
“It was really fun to put together,” said Jessica, a senior.
Harlingen High School Principal Imelda Munivez was very impressed with the performances.
“I guess I would have to say every year our ROTC program puts on a Veterans Day ceremony,” she said. “Every year I am amazed at the performance, the talent, just how beautifully our students and staff come together and celebrate our veterans.”
Several ROTC cadets were recognized for their plans to enter the military after high school.
Larry Lang, a veteran and also former high school counselor, commended them and gave a few words of wisdom.
“Do what your drill sergeant says,” he said. “Be on time. And most important, I have never heard of anyone who died from not having a cell phone.”
Everyone laughed and appreciated the homespun wisdom of someone who’d been there, mixed with a little humor about the realities of military service.