BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Veterans Day is a holiday understood and misunderstood by many people. It started out as Armistice Day at the end of World War I. It was changed to Veterans Day in 1938 by an act of Congress. The timing on that November 11 was linked back to the armistice of World War I. The eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month in 1918.
Many people think about Veterans Day as being the same as Memorial Day, that is not correct. Memorial Day is a holiday for those that died in the service of our country. Veterans Day is directed towards those who are in the service of our country and came back after wars and conflicts the United States was involved.
The Old City Cemetery of Brownsville is loaded with various veterans. A soldier that died in the service of our country while in military service is to be held distinct from the others. Many of those are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Those that came home after the war, the majority of them, in this cemetery, were veterans of course but they died in peaceful times.
In the city cemetery there is the William Neal compound that has four veterans. One from the Mexican American war and William Neal, who served in the Confederacy in the Civil War. The others include veterans of World War I and World War II. There is one point of significance that is extremely important to South Texas. That is the movement to incorporate the earthworks at Fort Brown into the national park system. The area will have three stars in the tiara of our military service situated right here in Brownsville, Texas. One was the battle of Palo Alto. The other one was Resaca De La Palma and the third one as Fort Brown.
Fort Brown, which started out as Fort Taylor, at the beginning of the Mexican War in 1846, was established by General Zachary Taylor. The earthworks that are here that is mound buildup of the old fort is the only evidence that there was a fort here. Congressman Filemon Vela introduced a bill before the House in October 2020. It was ratified in order to turn this into a National Park. The soldiers that were stationed here, veterans, were men and women. Women because there was one figure that stood out very, very strongly in the people that were here defending the fort and that was a lady called the Great Western. She tended to the soldier’s wounds and she brought them water and whatever they needed. The soldiers that were here valiantly defended this part of Texas at the time because it was ratified into the union in 1845.
What does it mean to have a national park site, another national park site, in south Texas? It is a great point in our favor for World History. Fort Brown launched that particular effort that was the body and spirit of the Mexican American War. What does it mean to defend your country? That is the true question behind the honor of a veteran. For one to give one’s service to the protection of their country. There is no greater honor. To put your life on the line in order to make certain that we have the preservation of freedom.