SAN ANTONIO - Standing under a purple drape was a reminder that freedom is not free.
A black granite memorial wall listed the names of 23 military men who were killed in action during the Vietnam War. Their contributions to the San Antonio community and nation were commemorated Saturday morning in a crowd of dozens that included loved ones, former classmates and other Vietnam era veterans.
Before leaving to Vietnam, men such as Jesse Rodríguez Acosta, Julián Alonzo, Narcisco Leos Jr and 20 others once walked the halls of Fox Tech High School. Today, their names are forever engraved in the granite that immortalizes their sacrifice in the fields of Southeast Asia.
"When they went in (to the military) they were 18, 19 years old, and unfortunately the ones that we're honoring today, didn't return," said Raúl Salas, who is not a veteran but graduated from Fox Tech High School in 1958. He attended the memorial celebration along with family and friends.
Some family members of the fallen were present Saturday.
Elva González came to honor her brother, Pfc. Horacio Carranza, Marine Corps.
"It was very sad because he was here for Christmas, got engaged at Christmas, and then he died in March," González said.
She says Carranza served with honor and his death was not in vain.
"This (memorial) is something special that I can pass on to my family and it's like (he is) being recognized. It's very special to us," González said. "I wish my mom was here to see this."
Although the family's pain will never go away, the Fox Tech Vietnam War Fallen Heroes Memorial Committee hopes the memorial will provide healing.
"When they stand in front of (the memorial), their reflection goes into the granite and they become part of the memorial," said Rafael Morales.
A U.S. Marine, Rafael Morales is a Vietnam veteran, chairman of the memorial committee and graduated from Fox Tech High School in 1962. He still remembers those he grew up with and fought alongside.
"We were kids. We went through a lot. We saw a lot," Morales said.
The memorial stands at the main entrance of Fox Tech High School resembles the memorial wall in Washington, D.C.
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