Mary Maldonado and Rosie Peres’ brother, Jose G. Cortez, was just 19 when he died.
The young Corpus Christi native and Roy Miller High School graduate had given the ultimate sacrifice — his life — in 1968, while serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
When asked about her fondest memory of her late brother, Maldonado spoke about how the two used to go to school together as children.
“He was so smart,” Maldonado said, tears welling in her eyes.
Maldonado and Peres were attending the Memorial Day Ceremony at Sherrill Veteran’s Memorial Park Monday to honor Cortez and his sacrifice.
The ceremony, which was hosted by the Disabled American Veterans E. G. Perales Chapter 150 and sponsored by the Corpus Christi Mayor’s Committee for Veterans Affairs, featured performances from the Veterans Band of Corpus Christi and remarks from the event’s keynote speaker, Lt. Col. Lou Villagomez.
Villagomez, an U.S. Air Force veteran, spoke of the importance of honoring the loss of all service members on Memorial Day — not just those who die directly in combat.
“There are too many invisible wounds while serving this country,” Villagomez said. “Family and friends do not grieve less or more depending on how they die.
“It is with this in mind, that Memorial Day should truly be focusing on honoring all service members America has lost,” he said. “We are here to take on the memory of our brothers and sisters that have gone before us … that have been lost in the service of our country — we must render a salute to those that we lost.”
The ceremony at Sherrill Veteran’s Memorial Park was just one of several events held in Corpus Christi to mark the holiday.
The U.S.S. Lexington Museum on the Bay also held its annual Memorial Day remembrance ceremony Monday.
The event, hosted by the museum’s Executive Director Steve Banta, featured a wreath laying and flag retirement ceremony.
Boy Scouts from Troop 494 in Wichita, Kansas led the flag retirement ceremony.
“My grandfather who served in the military just recently passed away, so it meant a lot to be here, thinking about him (and) presenting what he fought to protect — the flag … and then retiring the flag … it means a lot,” troop youth leader Andrew Jansen told the Caller-Times.
Kailey E. Hunt covers breaking news and public safety in South Texas. Help support more local coverage with a subscription at caller.com/subscribe.
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