A U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 (CW5) returned to his hometown of Nixon to speak at the Memorial Day ceremony Monday, May 29 at the city’s library.
CW5 Demetrio “Jay” Castro III was invited by the American Legion Post 547 to speak and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“I would like to thank Angel DeLaCruz and the American Legion for inviting me to speak today and for continuing to serve and support our men and women in and out of uniform,” Castro said.
Castro graduated Nixon-Smiley High School in 1995, but in 1993, in his junior year of high school, he joined the Army under its split-option program under the Army reserves.
“This is a surreal moment for me, considering that a short 30 years ago, I was here running the streets as a pestilent little boy with no direction and now I am in front of all you today as senior Army officer,” Castro said.
The ceremony honored service members who came from Nixon, and included Gold Star family Joseph and Pauline Villanova, whose son, Cpl. John Longoria, died in combat in 2005 in New Ubaydi, Iraq.
“The Gold Star lets the community know that their service member died or was killed while serving their country. Today we continue that tradition recognizing and supporting the families of our service members, our Gold Star Families,” Castro said.
Castro and the Villanovas — together with Nixon Mayor Dorothy Riojas, DeLaCruz and retired Army Natividad Ruiz — placed wreaths in honor of those service members from Nixon who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Castro closed out the ceremony, paraphrasing a passage from Charles Province:
“It is the service member, not the minister who has given us freedom of religion. It is the service member, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the service member, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the service member, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to protest. It is the service member, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the service member, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote. It is the service member who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives us our blanket of freedom.”