U.S. Army Specialist Alex Daniel Gonzalez was honored by friends and family as they gathered at the Rio Grande Valley State Veteran’s Cemetery in Mission last week. The 21-year-old of Mission died in Iraq on May 6 of last year. Friends and family wore pins with his picture and shirts with his face and the words, “He will never be forgotten” to honor him on the one year anniversary of his death.

Father Roy Snipes, from Our Lady of Guadalupe performed the invocation and the special blessing of the wreath which Gonzalez parents placed on his grave. “He heard the call to serve and sacrificed his very life so that others could be free,” Father Snipes said.

Audrey Gonzalez remembered her brother as a loving, carrying and brave soldier. Friends and family were important to him as well as fulfilling his long time dream of becoming a U.S. Soldier she said.

With tears in her eyes, she jokingly remembered the time she made fun of her brother for having to wake up early during basic training, while she got to sleep late. “My brother was a very proud soldier and he loved what he did. He never backed down from anything,” she said.

She said having this memorial was important for the family and glad the community was there to support them as well.

“Every month we come visit our brother here and we knew we wanted to do something on his anniversary,” she said.

Alfredo Gonzalez said the memorial is important because it is a way to keep the memory of his son alive. “He will be truly missed; he paid the ultimate prize with his life. We admire him and will always cherish his memories,” he said.

Mayor of Mission Norberto Salinas was in attendance and said it has been very hard for the city of Mission to accept the loss of soldiers. “We need to depend on our prayers and our churches to make us understand why this happens,” he said.

“We should never forget these young men who gave up their lives so we could enjoy the freedom that we enjoy today. I want to tell you that these young men have made us very proud. We will always remember them,” Salinas said about the soldiers who have died while serving.

The Mission Historical Museum held a special military exhibit where Spc. Alex Gonzalez, Srgt. Javier Marin, Staff Sergeant Omar Flores and Corporal Jose Rubio Hernandez, local fallen heroes were honored.