With the awarding of the state’s highest honor for military service to another Edinburg hero, veterans in the Valley say they are just beginning to get the respect and recognition they deserve.
Local veterans are offering their feedback following Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presentation to the family of Private Pedro Cano, an Edinburg native and WWII Veteran, with the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor on May 18 at the Edinburg Municipal Auditorium.
Edinburg can now be considered the “Hometown for Heroes,” Perry said at the ceremony. Another one of the city’s heroes, Freddy Gonzalez, was given the Medal of Honor in 2008.
“It gave us goosebumps,” said Hidalgo County Veterans Services director Emilio de los Santos. “It brought remembrance of all of our fallen soldiers, and it’s very appropriate with Memorial Day approaching. We were overwhelmed with the ceremony, which was very well planned. We applaud Rep. Aaron Peña in doing a magnificent job coordinating the event and taking it through the legislature.”
Some veterans say the award was long overdue.
“We all felt very proud that our area is always well represented in the military, especially in the field of gallantry, but for too many years they have failed to acknowledge the sacrifice of a lot of our men and women who have served from this area,” said Homer Gallegos, chairman of the Veterans Alliance in the Rio Grande Valley. “We were extremely proud of the event, and especially our elected officials going to the extreme of getting this veteran recognized, even though it’s many years after the fact.”
“Hero Street USA is alive in the Rio Grande Valley, and certainly Edinburg demonstrated that last week. It’s alive in every community in the Valley,” Gallegos said.
Other veterans say the award was fitting in an area where many have sacrificed the most, and have received less than in any other part of the country.
“It’s all about the respect that we’re owed, from what we went through, now we are being appreciated, it’s the kind of support we need” said Jose Maria Vasquez, commander of America’s Last Patrol. “We are in the most patriotic part of the country. We love our country and we enjoy the freedoms we have, but we know the cost. Because of this we are willing to sacrifice ourselves and our families. Yet when we come back and they throw us out like a worn out shoe. Where is the hospital, where is the respect we need. We have sacrificed the most, and got the least than any other part of the country.”
Veterans in Edinburg say they are proud to see ‘one of their own’ being awarded with the state’s highest honor.
“What happened, how come people didn’t know that much about Mr. Cano. He was actually forgotten for a long time and he was definitely a true hero. I really enjoyed it,” said Gus Garcia, commander of Edinburg’s American Legion Post 408. “I think when the governor said Edinburg was a ‘city of heroes’. We were very proud to see one of our own, one of our comrades, to be honored the way he was. I think from what I have seen, I think he deserves a Medal of Honor.”
Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, state Reps. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, Veronica Gonzalez, D-Mcallen, Edinburg mayor Richard Garcia, and top administrators from Edinburg CISD were also in attendance.
Students from Cano-Gonzalez Elementary also provided patriotic entertainment for visitors. The family of Pedro Cano included his sister, his two eldest daughters and his nephew.
“It has been a two year quest for myself to find his children and bring attention to his life and service,” said Peña, who authored HR 1427 in the Texas House of Representatives during the 81st Legislative Session in order for Cano to be considered for the award.
Pedro Cano was born in La Morita, Nuevo Leon, Mexico on July 7, 1920 and moved to Edinburg when he was only two months old. April 26th was named Pedro Cano Day in 1946 when over 4,000 people gathered to see him receive the Purple Heart, two Silver Stars and a Distinguished Service Cross for his valor during the Liberation of Paris.
Cano died tragically in an automobile crash in 1953.
More than 63 years later, Edinburg gathered at City Hall’s West Side Plaza to remember and honor Pedro Cano’s life and service to our country.
“History is in the faces of those serving (in the Armed Forces),” Perry said at the event. “Let this be a persistent reminder of the sacrifice and valor he (Cano) displayed for America’s freedom”.