Thousands of people ignored the threat of wet weather to attend the annual Memorial Day observance today at the Houston VA National Cemetery. Houston Public Radio’s Jim Bell was there.
An estimated 5,000 people took a chance on the weather and stood in silence as representatives of America’s historic military units marched into the memorial oval under their flags and colors to present wreaths honoring the men and women who’ve died in America’s wars, especially those interred in the Houston National Cemetery. The keynote speaker, retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, and retired Houston Municipal Courts Judge Willie Blackmon told the families that this place where their loved ones are at rest is hallowed ground.
“This Memorial Day we affirm our gratitude for those who fought and made the ultimate sacrifice, so that others could live and enjoy freedom in abundance. Today we honor those Americans who have served our nation, bot in war, and at peace.”
Blackmon said America is great because of the diversity of its people, of which he is a perfect example. Blackmon is descended from the French who settled in Louisiana in the 1700s, from slaves, and from native Americans, and he proudly salutes them all.
“This native son of Texas, this son of African-Americans, this son of European-Americans, and Native Americans, this American gives homage to those who have proudly, with honor and self sacrifice, given the final measure of devotion for their country.”
Being asked to blow taps on Memorial Day is a tremendous honor. Marine Sergeant and bugler Mark Collado said it’s a feeling that’s hard to describe.
“It’s the least that I can do for the veterans who came before me, and for all those who died for what I have today.”
His fellow bugler Dana Reed feels the same way.
“My first time at a Memorial Day service here at the National Cemetery. There’s not a case of nervousness, I’ve been playing since I was very young, but certainly, as you said, it’s quite an honor.”
Just a few of the voices and sounds of Memorial Day in Houston. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.