Edgewood remembers, salutes fallen soldiers

Edgewood ISD lost 54 in Vietnam

SAN ANTONIO – The photos have faded with time. The pride has not.

For the 28th year, hundreds of people gathered for a Memorial Day ceremony at Kennedy High School in the Edgewood Independent School District.

"Everybody thinks eating hot dogs, eating hamburgers and drinking beer is Memorial Day," said Joe Gonzalez, a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. "But there's more to it than that."

To Gonzalez, it's about Fermin Saldana, who died while serving in Vietnam 49 years ago. Saldana's picture was emblazoned across the American flag Gonzalez gripped in his weathered hand.

It was a gathering of music, patriotism and memories of so many touched by war.

The Edgewood class of 1967 alone lost 10 in Vietnam. Among them was Hilario Guajardo. He had actually dropped out of school two months shy of graduation to join the U.S. Marine Corps, his brother, Miguel Guajardo, recalled. A few weeks into service, while being medically transported to a hospital ship, the 19-year-old Marine's helicopter went down. His body was never recovered; he is listed as MIA.

For his older brother, the emotions are still raw.

"There's never been closure, and there will never be any," Guajardo said. "We just come here to join others that are feeling the same pain we are."

The small West Side school district lost 54 people in Vietnam, a heavy toll. So for them, Memorial Day is personal.

One by one, the names of the 54 were called as family members placed flags and flowers in their honor.

Fernando Camarillo's sisters recalled a patriotic young man who joined the Marines right after his graduation. He was another of the Edgewood Class of '67. He was killed in Vietnam one day after his 20th birthday.

"It brings us comfort to know that a lot of people have not forgotten my brother," his sister Micki said. "That brings us lots of comfort."

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