Texas Troops, Civilians March In Honor Of Fallen Heroes
(May 29, 2011)
Austin, TX (May 28, 2011) -- For some, Memorial Day means little more
than a long weekend of barbequing that starts off the summer each year
with fun and activities. For a small band of patriotic service members
and civilians, however, the somber day that recognizes the countless
lives lost in American conflicts overseas and stateside is not a
celebration, but a solemn reminder of the sacrifices necessary to ensure
the freedom and safety of our nation.|
Uniformed and civilian participants of the 5th Annual March For Fallen Heroes rest at the 36th Infantry Division's state capitol memorial in Austin, Texas, May 28, 2011. The event, held each year on Memorial Day weekend, honors service members who have lost their lives in the global war on terror, as well as lost veterans of past wars. Participants marched a 7.6 mile route from Zilker
Park to the state capitol and back in memory of their lost loved
"Keep in mind who we're walking for," said Army Staff Sgt. David
Mendiola at the start of the 2011 March for Fallen Heroes. "Let's make
sure the community knows, and never forgets."|
The annual event,
now in its fifth year, brings together veterans, family members, current
service members and citizens of all ages for a 7.2-mile foot march from
Austin's Zilker Park to the state capitol and back. As a staple affair
in the Texas Military Forces, which includes both the Texas Army
National Guard and the Texas State Guard, the march additionally serves
as a community outreach program, inviting Austinites to participate who
might not even have family in the armed forces.
"Today is great,"
said Mendiola. "We had a lot of participants show up today. We have more
civilians this time, so I'm pleased about that."
started the Texas march four years ago, first got the idea for a
memorial foot march after reading a story in Guard Experience Magazine
about a Tennessee guardsman who carried the U.S. flag around his town in
honor of those who died in the Global War on Terror.
immediately went to my first line supervisor," said Mendiola, recounting
the day he read the article. "Within three weeks, me and three other
members of my section met up at Zilker park, we loaded up and we started
walking toward the capitol."
"I'm marching for my buddy Anthony
Green," said Army Sgt. Donald Denson, "[killed in action] in Afghanistan
two years ago, and every other soldier that fought for the 36th ID from
World War I until now."
Denson, a soldier with Austin's 36th
Combat Aviation Brigade Headquarters, brought with him to the march his
son, who recently enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard.
feel like a soldier now," said Army Pvt. Michael Denson, Donald's son.
"It's a real good feeling to be able to march with everybody out here."
Texas veterans from outside the Texas Army National Guard proudly
joined the march thanks to Mendiola's networking efforts.
Rogers, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970, learned
about the event after meeting Mendiola on-line.
"We're on a Facebook
group together, Friends of Texas," said Rogers.
brought his older brother, William Rogers, a veteran of the Navy who
served from 11200 to 1965.
"I'm grateful to the people that are
here," said William Rogers. "I'd like to see more people out here."
The increased turn-out for this year's march means more and more
Texans each year are getting the word. The support for those involved
has been resounding.
"When I was out there this morning," said
Mendiola, "looking out at the crowd, it hit me hard."
Article and photo by Army SFC Daniel Griego
Texas Military Forces
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