Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery honors Memorial Day with ceremony

Ceremony included remarks from Maj. Gen. US Army (Ret.) Alfred Valenzuela

SAN ANTONIO – Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Here in Military City, USA, Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery holds a special annual ceremony to mark the day.

Hundreds of people gathered on Monday morning to commemorate Memorial Day with a wreath-laying presentation, a speech from Maj. Gen. US Army (Ret.) Alfred Valenzuela, a moment of silence and the playing of Taps from the 323rd Army Band “Fort Sam’s Own.”

“He passed away in 2017. And we come out here regularly. But today is a special day because it’s Memorial Day and we want to honor him and honor all the people that are buried out here,” Cody Knowlton said.

Knowlton and his wife Carole spend every Memorial Day here at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

“We are out here today because my father-in-law, Marshall Petersen, is buried here,” Knowlton said.

And the Knowlton family is not alone at the cemetery on Memorial Day.

Manny Mendoza, the commander of the Fort Sam Houston Memorial Services Detachment, said he estimated about 250 people would show up to Monday’s program.

Families were seen visiting gravesites and filling the benches to soak in the special day.

“We are the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery and I cannot imagine any other place to be on Memorial Day. It is just the right thing to do,” Mendoza said.

Memorial Day marks an especially important day for those who have lost loved ones.

“Don’t forget. You know, you cannot forget the veteran who gave the ultimate sacrifice while they were out there serving their country,” Mendoza said.

On Sunday and Monday, Gold Star Family after Gold Star Family paid their respects in the crowd, placed flags and flowers, and spent time with their loved ones who truly paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms — a reminder of how much our freedoms cost.

“Where would we be today if it wasn’t for that soldier, Marine, airman?” Mendoza said.

As for the Knowlton family, they know first-hand what Memorial Day means for our nation.

“We have to remember those that came before us that made what we have here possible. We were a free country and we’re free because of people like these men and women that are buried here,” Knowlton said.

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About the Authors:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.