Soldiers stand as a performance of the National Anthem plays. Photo by Scott Ball.
San Antonio is home to one of the nation’s largest active-duty and retired military populations. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Since its founding almost 300 years ago, San Antonio has had a strong and proud military presence, and a single day to show appreciation to veterans is simply not enough.

On Nov. 2, Mayor Ivy Taylor joined leaders from the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to kick off Celebrate America’s Military Month. The celebrations and commemorations have been underway since.

“San Antonio prides itself on being ‘Military City USA,’” Taylor stated in her weekly email. “And over the next several weeks, we’ll have a chance to honor our military men and women at dozens of events across the city.”

On Nov. 5, a convoy of the Alamo As Ford Model A Club rolled down the street as part of a Veterans Day parade in Universal City and more than 100 veterans gathered in front of the mural titled You Are Not Forgotten, located at 1500 W. Commerce St. The mural was painted by Mike Roman, whose father served in Vietnam.

San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) Board President Patti Radle described the ceremony last Saturday as emotional in a Facebook post.

“Names of former students of Lanier, Fox Tech, and Edgewood High Schools who died in the conflict in Vietnam were read, ‘Taps’ were played, (and the) Lanier color guard presented,” Radle wrote. “This whole event was orchestrated by Jaime Macias, a Holy Cross High School graduate and his family. It was a chance to say what many missed saying long ago: ‘Welcome home.’”

The celebrations and commemorations in honor of our veterans will culminate Friday, Nov. 11 – Veterans Day – as a number of businesses and organizations will offer discounts and other services to those who have bravely served our country.

Many restaurants will offer free meals to veterans who show their proof of military service. More than 10% of San Antonio’s population are veterans, so the impact is considerable. Click here for a list of participating companies.

Also On Nov. 11, current and retired service members will receive free admission to the Pat Green concert at Cowboys Dance Hall. SeaWorld is also offering tickets and discounts to veterans and those on active duty. Click here for details.

The biggest event of the week celebrating the United States military is the 17th Annual Veterans Parade at noon on Saturday, Nov. 12. The theme this year is “Veterans and Community – United,” and starts at Alamo and 4th streets. The route will follow Alamo Street south to Commerce Street and end at Milam Park. It will render special honors to Fernando F. Reyes, a local WWII veteran.

Delia A. Guajardo, president of the U.S. Military Veterans Parade Association, said entries in the parade will be composed of military units from all branches of service, school ROTC units, school bands, VFW Posts, and other associations that want to recognize veterans.

“The thought of a parade honoring veterans in San Antonio was born out of love (for) our city’s military veterans and its rich military heritage,” Guajardo wrote on the association’s website. “The first parade on Nov. 18, 2000, with only a handful of participants, has grown to almost 250 entries and national attention.”

Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) extended the invitation to his complementary Veterans Day luncheon on Nov. 12 to all San Antonio veterans and their families. The luncheon will immediately follow the parade and take place at 2 p.m. at VFW Post 76, the Oldest Post in Texas, located at 10 10th St.

Soldier Songs & Voices will offer a free guitar and music workshop for veterans on Nov. 13, from 1-3 p.m. at Sam’s Burger Joint. Its mission, powered by the Welcome Home Project, is to embrace American veterans upon their return home.

Annette Crawford, coordinator for the local chapter of Soldier Songs & Voices, said the group meets every second and fourth Sunday of the month. “If you have a guitar, bring it along,” she added.

Another creative project, the public art program Open the Door, aims to bring healing to veterans in San Antonio. This citywide public art program provides a platform for veterans to express themselves and begin the healing process.

“Transitioning to a New Normal” is the theme for an Open the Door art exhibit reception on Thursday, Nov. 17, from 4:30-6 p.m. at The Grand at VIA Villa. The former MKT Train Depot at 123 N. Medina St. will host the exhibit from Nov. 7-28. The exhibit is free and open to the public and seeks to spread the knowledge that art and creative activity can help veterans overcome struggles.

There are dozens of other events designed to remember and honor the veterans this month. Click here for a comprehensive list of events to celebrate America’s military.

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Don Mathis

Don’s life revolves around the many poetry circles in San Antonio. His poems have been published in many anthologies and periodicals and broadcasted on local TV and national radio. In addition to poetry,...