In 1999, we had a Market Square Commision social gathering at Las Margaritas Restaurant. I met a veteran in his army uniform. His name was Carlos Valencia Cavazos. He was 75 years old. He asked me if we could meet; he had something to ask of me.
We met at Mi Tierra after the social. The dinner meeting lasted three hours. Apparently, our veterans had been searching for someone who knew about parades and was heavily involved in our community who would organize the Veterans Parade in San Antonio. He asked me if I was interested in doing this.
He told me the veterans had no money. They were looking for someone to help them, someone who also had a passion and respected our veterans. My husband, Roy, is an Army veteran; my whole family served our country. I thought to myself, “What an honor.” I spoke with my husband and he thought it was a great idea and to be sure I learned protocol. I was pleased to tell Mr. Cavazos that I accepted his proposal.
The first thing veteran Tomas Jimenez and myself did was go down to the courthouse and register the name of the U.S. Military Veterans Parade Association. That year was a wonderful year for me because I met my friends, my buddies and my comrades. I had the honor of meeting eight Former POW’s and their wives. Former POW’s: Jose A. Hinojosa, Oscar N. Cortez, Jimmy L. Chavez, Joseph D. Layzer, Alex Tovar, Jose Rodriguez, Willy Garcia, and Shorty Estabrook who now lives in San Antonio.
Many veterans and community leaders stood by me and walked with me down Houston street, delivering parade flyers. Among them were past Commander of VFW District 20, Mr. Joe Diaz, Congressional Medal Of Honor recipient Louis Richard Rocco, retired Army Nurse Sylvia Sanchez, Former POW Howard Rey and veterans like Ramiro Mendez and Antonio Bustamante.
All veterans had a story to share with me, especially our Former POW’s. They taught me to be strong, fair and to fight for what was right. Most importantly, they taught me VETERANS NEEDED TO BE RESPECTED! They fought for our country; for you and for me. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.
Former POW, Jose D. Hinojosa, would always tell me, “Delia, we are a dying breed.” He was right. Former POW’s I mentioned: Jose D. Hinojosa, Alex Tovar, Willy Garcia and Joseph D. Layzer are now deceased. I miss each one of them. Still with us today are POW Oscar N. Cortez ,Jimmy Chavez and Jose Rodriguez.
It took many community members to join me in orchestrating the first Veterans Parade on Saturday, November 18th, 2000. The temperature was 95 degrees on the night before the parade. By Saturday morning, we woke up with temperature of 32 degrees, sleeting, raining and very windy. The media was calling me asking if the parade was cancelled. My answer was a definite, “No.” The 32 degree weather was nothing compared to when they were at war. Houston street was the only street we walked, with 20 spectators at the most. The parade was over within 20 minutes.
In 2001 our parade route changed to begin in front of the Alamo on Commerce street and end at Milam Park. It is now the 3rd largest Veterans Parade in the United States.
Former POW Jose D Hinojosa, until his last breath, thanked me for my support for our veterans. He was so proud. Don’t forget to stop and make time to thank a veteran for their service to our country. It matters. Thank you San Antonio, Military City USA.
Note: Dedicated to Mr. Tino Duran, Army Veteran. You will not be forgotten.