Students, faculty, and veterans gathered at San Antonio College on Monday to commemorate Memorial Day with colors, words, and the playing of “Taps” for the lives lost during military conflicts all over the world.

Maj. Gen. Angela Salinas (Ret.) of the U.S. Marine Corps, the keynote speaker and CEO of the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, told the crowd of about 50 that “for families and loved ones of those we remember, every single day is Memorial Day.”

Memories are triggered by sunsets, pictures, a toy, or a sound that evokes a longing for one more moment with the departed, Salinas said.

So don’t feel awkward thanking a man or woman in uniform, she said earlier in the program. And for fellow veterans, “you don’t have to say a lot … you just look, and you kind of have a little nod, and you know.”

SAC has “one of the largest veteran and active-duty military student populations” in the city, according to the college. It serves an estimated 3,000 each semester.

“Each and every one of us has a different reason to serve, and they all should be respected,” said student and veteran Daniel Johnson. “It takes a special kind of person to put themselves in harm’s way.”

SAC’s annual Memorial Day event on campus was hosted by the college’s Office of Veterans Affairs.

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) used the holiday to remember a friend of his who gave his life serving the country.

“For many people in my district, remembering the fallen doesn’t happen just one day of the year,” Hurd stated in an email to supporters and media Monday morning. “For these folks, every day is a reminder of the parent, sibling, child or battle-buddy that traded their life to fulfill an oath to the United States of America. The impact of a life lost too soon does not end for these families once the three-day weekend is over.”

Hurd’s friend, Johnny “Mike” Spann, was one of the first to be deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he said. Spann was a member of the CIA’s paramilitary Special Activities Division.

Sandra Day O'Connor High School student Enrique Degollado performs the presentation of "TAPS" at the Memorial Day ceremony.
Sandra Day O’Connor High School student Enrique Degollado playss “Taps” at the Memorial Day ceremony. Credit: Hannah Whisenant / San Antonio Report

“When I was helping him prepare for his assignment, I never would have thought a few weeks later he would be the first American killed in combat during our invasion of Afghanistan in 2001,” stated Hurd, a former undercover CIA officer. “His youngest daughter at the time of Mike’s death was just a baby. Mike never got the chance to see her grow up into the phenomenal woman that she is now, because he put himself in harm’s way to defend our freedom and protect our way of life.”

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org

Hannah Whisenant

Hannah Whisenant is a filmmaker and photographer from the Texas Hill Country. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BS in Radio Television and Film, and she aims to continue telling...