Harlingen Happenings

Mary Torres, Special to the Star

Congratulations to all the graduating seniors of the class of 2020 and their families! Your resilience and creativity is to be applauded as you adapt to the changes and restrictions caused by COVID-19 which have precluded in most part, the traditions customarily associated with the end of your senior year. Graduation ceremonies in America date back to the mid-1800s when public education was first becoming compulsory across the nation and details on your parents, grandparents, and other relatives graduation ceremonies can be found in your home, in old yearbooks in the Archive Room at the Harlingen Public Library, other archives, and on the Internet. Your graduation in 2020 is certainly historic so please take plenty of photos and videos to record this memorable event for future generations.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a day that marks the unofficial beginning of summer, but most importantly, it is a day to remember and honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Originating after the Civil War, Memorial Day, originally known as “Decoration Day,” was observed on May 30. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May and also declared it a Federal holiday. This year, observances usually associated with Memorial Day such as spending time with family and sharing memories of relatives who served in the military and attending parades and  ceremonies have been canceled due to COVID-19 and social distancing.

The annual ceremony hosted by the City of  Harlingen and local veterans organizations at Pendleton Park will not be held this year due to the pandemic. You can still, however, visit cemeteries and pay your respects. You can also go by the Harlingen Public Library, 410 ’76 Dr. during regular business hours  to see the Memorial Day window display created by the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Genealogical Society dedicated to America’s fallen military heroes of Hispanic descent who paid the supreme sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we enjoy.

There are also some virtual events scheduled such as the Virtual Memorial Day Ceremony hosted by the Veterans Land Board of Texas on Facebook on Monday, May 25, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:01 p.m. at https://www.facebook.com/events/1457156161133950/.  According to the organization, “The year 2020 has brought many unforeseen changes. However, one thing that has not, nor ever will change is our unwavering dedication to Texas Veterans and remembrance of the ones we have lost.

Though this Memorial Day may look a little different as we practice social distancing to fight COVID-19, we will continue to honor and show our thanks to the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. While we may not be able to continue our normal Memorial Day remembrance ceremonies across our four Texas State Veteran Cemeteries, we will be remembering our fallen virtually this year. The ceremony will feature Ret. 4-Star Admiral William McRaven as our Keynote speaker and remarks by Veterans Land Board Chairman George P. Bush. A wreath-laying ceremony and a performance of “Taps” will be conducted over livestream from our Central Texas Veterans Cemetery in Killeen. Please join us in remembering Texas’ fallen heroes.”

Just a reminder that it’s important that all of us get counted in the 2020 U.S. Federal Census. Census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year for public services and infrastructure and how many seats in Congress each state gets over the next ten years. Texas and the lower Rio Grande Valley rank low in the number of questionnaires completed.  If you haven’t already done so, please take a few minutes to complete the questionnaire online at 2020census.gov, over the phone, or by mail – all without having to meet a census taker.