By Jeff CrawleyNovember 13, 2008
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - San Antonians paid tribute to all of those who have served and those who are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during a Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11 at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
Several hundred people attended the two-hour observance, which featured 10 servicemen and women becoming U.S. citizens, the dedication of a new Purple Heart postage stamp and wreath layings.
The keynote speaker was Rear Adm. Patrick McGrath, vice commander of the Naval Air Forces; commander of Naval Air Forces Reserve; and deputy commander of the Navy Region - Southwest.
"For nearly a century, Americans have gathered on this day to honor those who have honored us with their service," McGrath said. "There is arguably no greater sacrifice one can make than to fight and even die for others."
The U.S. Postal Service represented by San Antonio Postmaster Steven Hernandez used the occasion to unveil its new Purple Heart stamp.
"It is a privilege to represent the United States Postal Service and to unveil the special stamp in front of our veterans and their Families," Hernandez said. Many Americans are inspired by stamps and they are a unique reminder of the triumphs and accomplishments that shape the world.
Hernandez invited McGrath and Conrad Myers, commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 1836, to the front of the stage to unveil the stamp.
During a veteran's naturalization ceremony, 10 servicemen and women from the four DoD services became U.S. citizens, including Soldiers Pvt. Simone Garner, of Germany, and Sgt. Orianna Martinez, of Nicaragua.
"It (citizenship) means a lot to me, especially being Veterans Day," said Martinez, who is a supply specialist at Fort Hood, Texas. "It is such an honor. I am so grateful for this country."
(Jeff Crawley works in the Fort Sam Houston Public Affairs Office)