LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
While many citizens of the United States marked their calendars for an extra-long weekend, Laughlin and the city of Del Rio used that opportunity to honor fallen veterans on May 29 for Memorial Day.
The memorial event included a ceremony lead by retired Maj. Gen. Gerald Prather, and a wreath laying at the memorial dedicated to fallen military members outside the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce.
“We always take time out to honor the fallen on this sacred day,” Prather said. “They are the ones this day is about.”
The event also featured the Laughlin Honor Guard and a rendition of the anthem and Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be an American” performed by Robert Wade. Laughlin and Del Rio also brought out representatives from their communities to read the names of the fallen from Val Verde County.
“This year, we aren’t going to offer up a lot of flowery words,” said Prather. “Because words do not explain their sacrifice.”
Alongside Prather, Col. Thomas Shank, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, contributed his experiences from his career and shared his thoughts to both Laughlin and the city.
“Del Rio may be a small Texas town, but it’s got a big Texas heart,” said Shank. “There isn’t a city that loves its veterans more than the city of Del Rio.”
Speaking on behalf of the city, Mayor Robert Garza and Val Verde county judge Efrain Valdez also shared their thoughts from the perspective in their positions and from their constituents in both the city and Val Verde County.
“I’ve been in combat, won medals for combat, and probably even came close to dying in combat,” said Prather. “If I hadn’t made it home, I would be honored that you took an hour out of your day and had called my name out, remembered me, and enjoyed the rest of your day with a lift in your step.”
After the ceremony the attending guests, many of whom were veterans themselves, shared with each other their remembrances and thoughts while enjoying each other’s company. While their experiences and services may be different, they are united in their sense of duty to honor, respect, and remember those who did not come home and could not attend.