It was certainly an event heavy with emotion, where generations upon generations of veterans and their families welcomed a symbolism of gratitude for those who have served our country.
At 105-feet, the black granite monument, known as the American spire of honor, was the epicenter of a commemorative ceremony in McAllen where hundreds of gatherers showed up to give thanks to the men and women that have lost their lives and those who have served.
That is the reason why each year, Juan Puentes attends these events. The memories of his 2 year tour in Vietnam are still alive and so are his conflicted emotions about war.
“What did we have anything to do with the war? That’s what makes me sad, that makes me angry and sometimes I cry,” says Juan Puentes, Vietnam veteran 1966-1968.
Even after all the suffering the 66-year-old veteran has endured, he still believes soldiers should be remembered.
“For me, this brings me many memories of how i served my county,” explains Puentes.
Sacrifice goes both ways. Veteran families and of fallen soldiers must also fight their battles.
“I’m her casualty assistant, I supported her during the loss of her husband. I told her and helped throughout the process. She is now my military adopted family,” explains Mario Rocha, Master Sargent U.S. Army.
Rodolfo Rodriguez Jr., died from an improvised explosive device on September 14th, 2011 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. That devastated the Rodriguez family, but thanks to the continued support of master sergeant Rocha, they have been able to move on.
“I knew something was wrong. As a military wife you know it when you see a soldier walk up your steps,” explains Melissa Rodriguez, wife of fallen soldier.
“Support the families, support their decision no matter if they served or not, support them,” adds Rocha.
McAllen mayor Jim Darling emphasized during his speech that the veteran’s war memorial of Texas isn’t for the city, but for the valley, because all veterans are represented in the monuments at the park.