HARLINGEN — They moved slowly toward the large stone wall bearing the emblems of the military.
First it was the Army, then the Navy, and subsequently each branch received a wreath at yesterday’s Wreaths Across America to honor people who have served or are serving in the military.
“This is the first time Harlingen is doing this,” said Lenore Combs, project coordinator.
“This mission is to honor the fallen and honor those who served and teach the children,” she said.
The National Wreaths Across America Day coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery as well as at more than 1,400 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad.
About 200 city officials, volunteer committees, and veterans of all branches of the service attended the ceremony at Pendleton Park. It was organized by the Veterans Memorial Park Committee and the Harlingen Veterans Advisory Board.
Mayor Chris Boswell and Harlingen Police Sergeant Sal Carmona spoke before volunteers took more than 900 wreaths to seven cemeteries across the Valley where they would be placed at the graves of veterans.
“We have to teach the next generation about the sacrifices made for us,” Carmona said. “These service members should never be forgotten. We are grateful. We should always remember the fallen.”
Carmona and several others emphasized the lesson to the younger generation by quoting President Ronald Reagan.
“‘Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction,’” he said, quoting the 40th president.
“We don’t pass the message to our children through our bloodline,” Carmona said. “It must be protected.”
A 21-gun salute was followed by the playing of Taps before everyone split into groups for the journeys to separate cemeteries.
“I thought it was great to remember our fallen brothers in arms,” said Luis Garcia, a retired Army sergeant first class.
“That’s why I make every attempt to come to these ceremonies,” said Garcia, 62.
Boswell appreciated the ceremony.
“I was really impressed and the message being simple about laying wreaths across America in remembrance of our fallen veterans,” he said. “I’m really grateful to our veterans committees.”
Cemeteries where veterans received wreaths
Ashland Cemetery in Harlingen
F Street Cemetery in Harlingen
Monte Meta Cemetery in San Benito
Heavenly Grace Cemetery in La Feria
Restlawn Cemetery in La Feria
Las Rucias Cemetery in Los Indios