Hand shake
Vietnam veteran Robert Whitney shakes hands with Soldiers from Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment standing by to render a 21-gun salute at a memorial ceremony at Harker Heights, Texas, May 28. (Photo Credit: Eric Franklin, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas — City leaders here hosted a Memorial Day Ceremony and Remembrance Walk to honor those service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to the nation at the Carl Levin Park amphitheater, May 28.

The ceremony ended with the laying of a wreath, a 21-gun salute from Soldiers from Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment, followed by “Taps.” Attendees then took a lap around Carl Levin Park.

Out front on the walk was retired Army Master Sgt. Robert L. Whitney, a Vietnam War veteran dressed in his uniform and boots, carrying an American flag for service members both past and present.

“I believe in the United States,” Whitney said. “I represent every veteran that ever put a pair of boots on or a pair of shoes for the United States.”

Whitney has worn his Vietnam-era uniform and carried the American flag in as many parades and events as he can over the last few decades.

“ I have been to every parade they had in Killeen. I was in the centennial one in Belton,” Whitney said. “If they (event organizers) say they want me, I am there.”

75th Ranger Regiment alums
Vietnam veteran Marty Martinez talks with Capt. Seth Gross, Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, about the pair's shared ties to the 75th Ranger Regiment following a memorial ceremony at Harker Heights, Texas, May 28. (Photo Credit: Eric Franklin, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

Marty Martinez, a Vietnam veteran and active member of multiple veterans’ organizations in the central Texas area, said today is to honor those who gave their lives for us.

“On Memorial Day, we pay our respects and honor the memory of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Martinez said.

Also attending the ceremony was Jonathan Duenas, a junior at Harker Heights High School, and his two brothers, all volunteers for the city library and sons of an active-duty service member. He said being able to honor those who do so much for our country is important.

“It makes me feel like, wow, I’m a part of this,” Duenas said. “This is my country. These are the people that serve our country.”

When asked what we would tell younger kids about those who serve in the military, Duenas said, “I think I would tell kids that Memorial Day is about your country. (These are) … people that are going to serve your country, honor and respect them.” He added that it is important to remember their sacrifice.

Martinez also spoke about the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. He said this weekend should be a celebration for those who sacrificed their lives for the U.S., and a time to celebrate with loved ones.

“On Veterans Day, we honor all our military service members,” Martinez said, “but on Memorial Day, we pay our respects and honor the memory of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.”