Residents from Robstown, Banquete and Kingsville honored about 150 veterans and military servicemen at a Veteran's Day celebration Monday.
Hundreds of people packed into the Banquete High School football stadium to pay tribute to active members of the military who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The event also honored those who served during previous wars, such as World Wars I and II, the Korean War and Vietnam.
The event began at about 1:30 p.m. with veterans being led into the stadium by motorcycles driven by members of the Patriot Guard Riders as part of a parade.
The Patriot Guard is an organization that has more than 125,000 members nationwide that uses "word of mouth, the Internet and the Department of Defense in order to keep abreast of funeral service arrangements for fallen soldiers." The group attended the funeral of Anselmo Martinez III, a Robstown man who was killed in May after his unit was hit by an improvised explosive device in Iraq.
Dan Creswell, deputy state captain of the Patriot Guard in Texas, said he was thankful to see the ceremony honoring veterans, especially those from the Vietnam War, whom he said were treated with no respect upon their return.
It was those veterans, he added, who laid the foundation for the Patriot Guard, as well as the support troops have when they return from Iraq, which has been compared to Vietnam by lawmakers in Washington.
"I think it's because of Vietnam veterans you see that change because they told themselves after they got home, 'I will never allow another soldier to be treated this way,'" Creswell said.
Attendees were also treated to performances by the Robstown High School choir, which sang "God Bless America." The Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps from H.M. King High School also had its armed drill team conduct a routine that drew a standing ovation from veterans and the crowd alike.
Members of the Marine Corps League, a national organization that, in part, provides assistance to all Marines, present and former, and their widows and orphans, held a 21-gun salute at the beginning of the event.
Dick Prewett, a veteran of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars, was the guest speaker at the event, which he said should be used to remember and honor those who are putting their lives at risk for their country.
"I don't care if you disagree with the conflict we are in," Prewett said. "They are our countrymen and they are veterans and as veterans, we must respect them and we must remember them."