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Above, Capt. Nicholas Mongillo, U.S Navy retired, delivered the Memorial Day remarks at a ceremony at the Hays County Veterans Memorial on Monday. Daily Record photo by Lance Winter

San Marcos pays tribute to fallen veterans

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

It was a wonderful Memorial Day tribute — a remembrance to those making the ultimate sacrifice for America — honored at the Hays County Veterans Memorial on Monday.

San Marcos Mayor Jane Hughson began by reminding those in attendance that freedom is not free but paid for by those serving in the armed forces.

“As you pass the flags lining our streets for this holiday, or look at the Veterans Memorial, take a moment to remember the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices made for you and our nation,” Hughson said.

Capt. Nicholas Mongillo, U.S. Navy retired, delivered the Memorial Day remarks but not before recognizing those who served from World War II through Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Performing and speaking at these events I've learned a lot about Memorial Day. It wasn’t a federal holiday for many years,” he said. “It started around the time of the Civil War … 600,000 dead, the spouses of deceased would visit cemeteries and decorate the graves.”

It carried on, Mongillo said, throughout the decades until some states adopted it as a state holiday calling it Decoration Day. He said it was in 1971 it was changed to Memorial Day to recognize those who passed.

“I wish we didn't need Memorial Day. In fact, I wish we lived in a world where we didn't need armed forces,” Mongillo said. “You may find that surprising for somebody who served honorably and loved his military for 28 years. It's a noble belief that someday maybe we won't need such a strong military, maybe mankind will achieve this lofty goal. I don't see it happening in my lifetime. We're not that civilized yet — as a world — as a civilization.”

Mongillo said most attending don’t recall World War I or World War II. That 20 million died in World War I — trench warfare; and 40 million in World War II.

“The United States and its allies were the last great hope for freedom, and we still are that beacon of freedom in the world. We are the good guys and women that serve,” he said.

“Korea and Vietnam further highlighted that evil exists and we can't maintain the peace no matter how hard we try and want peace,” Mongillo added. “Even with the fall of the evil empire — of the USSR and the iron curtain — in the 90s another evil emerged to take its place. Unfortunately, there are bad people out there, there is evil in this world, and they would take your freedom — they would take it away in a heartbeat — if we allow them too.”

Mongillo said in a world of uncertainty there's one certainty. Someone, somewhere, wants to take what you have.

“They'll take your money, your possessions, your freedom, your resources and in many cases your life,” Mongillo said. “They would enslave you in a second, force the religion on you, to fulfill their selfish needs,” he said. “In this reality that we live in compels us to keep a strong military, and that is represented by you in this audience, and our friends and families that serve currently and wear the cloth of our nation.”

He said by protecting ourselves, protecting our allies, and protecting the weak of the world we fill veteran cemeteries across the nation.

“We thank the families that supported it and sent these young men and women off to combat. This ceremony to honor all who have died in service to our nation,” he said. “God bless the United States of America.”

Above, Michael Hernandez, US Army Medic, Chair — Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee — and Willy Pelczar, U.S Army Airborne Rangers Veteran, AMVETS Post 104, place the ceremonial wreath in front of the Hays County Veterans Memorial on Monday.
Daily Record photo by Lance Winter

Wreath Placement was by Michael Hernandez, U.S. Army Medic, Chair — Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee — and Willy Pelczar, U.S. Army Airborne Rangers Veteran, AMVETS Post 104.

Afterward, the reading of the names of soldiers who died in action followed. Those who read the names are as follows: World War I — read by John Minyard, U.S. Navy; World War II — read by Stephanie Brown, U.S. Army; Korean Conflict — Ben Kvanli, Member: Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee; Vietnam War — Clay Green, U.S.  Navy; Desert Storm — Iraq and Afghanistan — Michael Hernandez. US Army.

Also, during the ceremony Margie Villalpando with the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 144 performed the invocation; Tammy Strakos performed the National Anthem; Boy Scout Troop 112 posted and retired the colors; and Cathy McBride Stoughton played Taps.

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666