HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — At the Harlingen Community Center, a full house of veterans joined a discussion with Cameron County officials about the possibility of establishing the county’s own veteran’s cemetery.
Joining the panel were Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr., Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D-15), Democratic candidate for the Texas House of Representatives District 38 Erin Gamez, and Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-27).
“Only two defining forces have offered to die for you, Jesus Christ as our pastor said earlier, and the American soldier,” said Treviño, starting off the roundtable discussion with a tribute to the veterans in the room.
Veterans in the room said they want to be buried close to home, but sometimes that is not an option when the closest veteran’s state cemetery is the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery, in Mission.
“The veterans that die in Cameron County, if the families want to go to a funeral they have to go to one in Mission,” said Tony Cordova, ex-Marine, Purple Heart recipient, and commander of post 8788.
Cameron County leaders on Monday agreed unanimously on the creation of the cemetery, however, Judge Treviño pointed out a piece of federal legislation that could be a barrier.
“A federal law that puts a distance between federal veterans cemeteries at 75 miles that being a federal statute, then that would have to be amended,” said Treviño.
Treviño pointed to the state cemetery in Mission and said the distance between it and one in Cameron County might not fit under law.
The Cameron County Judge also added that the county requires 100 acres of land for the cemetery, plus to secure funding for the project.
One veteran that spoke publicly did not have 100 acres but offered what he could.
“[The judge said] that he needed a 100 acres, but judge I only have 25 that I am willing to contribute,” said the veteran.
Causing a round of applause his offer was taken down into consideration.
Other veterans made clear that they must all put their political difference aside to make this possible.
“I hope everybody can put aside any political ailings they have here and remember what our common goal is,” said Ford Kinsley, ex-Marine veteran sergeant major.