By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Always the diplomat, during the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Mexico City’s National Cemetery on Monday, May 28, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires William H. Duncan spoke not only of the sacrifice of the courageous U.S. men and women who gave their lives in military service to their country, but also of the noble sacrifices of Mexican military personnel who have died in defense of their nation.
“Many Americans have lost their lives fighting for their country’s freedom and security, and the same is true of Mexico,” Duncan said in a brief but moving speech.
“Many of the brave men and women of Mexico’s Army, Air Force and Navy have given their lives serving and defending their country against organized crime and other threats to national security. We honor the sacrifices of these brave Mexican military heroes today as well.”
Duncan added that “their service to Mexico has made their homeland, and ours, more secure.”
The envoy said that all men and women who die in service to their nations are heroes.
“Our country is the land of the free only because it is also the home of these brave citizens,” he said.
“Their demonstration of honor and courage is a tribute to the values we as Americans hold so dear. There is no greater measure of devotion than
being willing to sacrifice your life for your country. Our
gratitude is eternal, and we gather here today to show our
respect for those who never made it home.”
Alan Seeger Post 2 commander Eric Rojo, a retired U.S. Army coronel, also spoke during the ceremony, reminding those who attended that “all the members of our armed forces who served and died in all our wars are never forgotten, as their service and sacrifice are the unbending steel that forged and upholds our nation.”
“In these troubled times, when so-called political correctness is a path to change our history and destroy or diminish the memory and deeds of many of the figures who shaped who we are as a nation, it is accordingly a moral imperative to reflect on (the fact that) it is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag,” Rojo said.
“In celebration of their service, we reaffirm our commitment to the ideas and ideals our predecessors fought and died for.”
Rojas later read “I Have a Rendezvous with Death,” a poem written by Alan Seeger, a U.S. volunteer in the French Foreign Legion who died in the Battle of Somme and who is the namesake for the Mexico City chapter of the American Legion.
The ceremony included a presentation of colors by the U.S. Marine Corps from the U.S. Embassy, as well as the placing of wreaths and the POW-MIA flag by U.S. Marine Corps defense attaché Luis Mungia.
Pastor Lynn Sasser of Capital City Baptist Church offered the invocation and benediction, and there was a single bagpiper who preformed taps.
Duncan also acknowledged the service and dedication of Héctor de Jesús, a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Army who for the last 12 years has overseen the
Mexico City National Cemetery and Memorial where the ceremony
Hector has meticulously cared for these grounds while ceremony took place.