This Memorial Day, mothers of fallen military in the Rio Grande Valley are asking for more support from the community for families with children serving overseas.
“We need support for the people that lose a child in a war, whether it’s a son or a daughter, they share that bond,” said Lisa Sekula, whose son Dustin was tragically killed in Iraq in 2004. “We need that support out there because you can’t tell me how it feels, you have never walked in those steps.”
Sekula along with Dolia Gonzalez, mother of local Vietnam War legend Freddy Gonzalez, were the guests of honor at a special Memorial Day observance held at the library that bears her son’s namesake.
At the Dustin M. Sekula Memorial Library in Edinburg, the mothers were presented a Memorial Day wreath on behalf of all soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country.
Sekula and Gonzalez are a part of American Gold Star Mothers, a national organization of mothers whose sons or daughters have died in service to their country. The group participates in memorial events across the nation.
“It hasn’t been an easy walk, but Dustin would not have wanted me to feel sick or feel bad, he would have wanted me to go on with my life, and I am through the grace of God,” Sekula said.
Sekula, 18, is considered the first person from Hidalgo County to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Three months after he arrived in Iraq with the 1st Military Division, Sekula was killed in the Al Anbar province — which includes Fallujah and Ramadi in the hostile Sunni Triangle, according to military reports.
“Let me put it to you this way, your life changes dramatically and it never goes back to the way it was,” Sekula said. “It’s very difficult. Some days I wake up and it looks like I take a step forward, and some days it looks like I take 10 steps back and I’m sure they (families) go through the same thing. We just have to keep on going because my faith is what has helped me when I have fallen. Thank God I have been able to get up and I have had a lot of support from a lot of people that don’t judge but just love me for who I am. That’s what we need to express more than anything to all the families. It’s just love and support from the community.”
This Memorial Day Sekula says she will be working but will spend the rest of the day watching John Wayne movies in memory of her son.
“I love John Wayne. Dusty was all-cowboy and he wore his spurs and I think he would have said ‘way to go’,” she said.