Sunday, February 3, 2008

Texas Legislative Medal of Honor Award Presentation

Texas Legislative Medal of Honor Award Presentation

Sergeant Alfredo Gonzalez
February 4, 2008
Edinburg CISD Cats Stadium
1:30 PM

1:30 p.m. Music Program by Various ECISD School Groups

Master of Ceremonies - Letty Garza

Posting of Colors - Marine Color Guard

Pledge of Allegiance by Students of Freddy Gonzalez Elementary

National Anthem by Stephen Lopez

Prayer by Father Robert Charleston, Sacred Heart Church

Welcome by Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa

Special Recognitions by State Representative Veronica Gonzales

Remarks by State Representative Aaron Peña

Remarks by State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa

Remarks by Congressman Ruben Hinojosa

Remarks and Presentation by Governor Rick Perry

Reading of Texas Legislative Medal of Honor Resolution - Commander R. Alistair Borchert, Commanding Officer USS Gonzalez

Comments by Dolia Gonzalez

3:00 p.m. Close by Master of Ceremony

Monday, January 21, 2008

On 4oth Anniversary of His Death in Combat, Freddy González to Be Honored by Governor


His country is protected by his namesake, his buddies in combat were saved by him, his fellow Marines have been inspired by him, he made his hometown famous, and in less than one month – exactly 40 years after being killed in action in Vietnam – the governor of Texas will come to Edinburg to posthumously honor him.

U.S. Marines Sgt. Alfredo "Freddy" González, the only son of a single working mother, twice answered his nation's call to arms against the forces of evil on the other side of the world.

For such devotion to his homeland and brothers-in-arms, and for much more, González is now officially a Texas hero – and his mother, Dolia, at 2 p.m. on Monday, February 4, will receive, in his memory, the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor.

The event, probably to be held at Cats Stadium – where González played high school football in the mid-1960s for the Edinburg Bobcats – is the result of House Concurrent Resolution 121, authored by Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, and sponsored by Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen.

The state legislation, approved unanimously by the Texas Legislature last spring, represents one of the rarest and most profound state actions – bestowing the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, which is Texas' highest public recognition for valor.

Peña made the announcement on live television, being broadcast by the Edinburg Cable Network, at the beginning of the Edinburg City Council's regular public meeting, which began at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8.

The update was breaking news, the Edinburg Democrat told the city council and viewing audience.

"I just got off the phone with the governor's office," Peña said. "They said he will definitely be here to bestow the medal."

He said the governor's decision came after ongoing negotiations with Perry's office to select the best date for such an important ceremony. Selecting the anniversary of González' heroic death will send a profound message about how Texas feels about its veterans and their families.

"The Valley has given up many sons and daughters to the service of our country, and Freddy González is one of the best examples," said Peña, who was raised in Edinburg. "Having heard the stories of his life and service, he exemplifies all the brave Americans who went to war in their youth, had a life full of promise, then lost it too soon. But they loved their communities, and this community does not forget their sons and daughters."

Beyond that, Peña added, "It is important that the governor pay honor and respect to South Texans, and their soldiers."

Hinojosa, who was contacted later that evening, said he was proud to have carried the legislation in the Senate on behalf of the González family and his legislative district.

"Our nation has honored Freddy González with the Congressional Medal of Honor and with a $900 million guided missile destroyer named after him, and there are streets and buildings on military installations in America bearing his name," said Hinojosa, himself a U.S. Marines combat squad leader in Vietnam. "Now, we have come full-circle, and the people of Texas, through the governor and Texas Legislature, will give him and his mother their rightful due."

The city's football stadium as the site for the ceremony represents the wishes of Dolia González, said Peña.

"The initial thought was we would have it at the Freddy González Elementary School, but in talking with some of the more senior U.S. veterans, they have told me there have been similar ceremonies like this, and the town pours into those events," Peña said. "That, coupled with the fact that Mrs. González said the football stadium where Freddy played quarterback was important to him, it is important to her as well."

Much remains to be done, he noted, such as making sure there is a back-up location in case inclement weather makes the stadium unavailable for use.

"The school district has said we can get anything we want. The elementary school has said whatever you want," said an appreciative Peña.

He spoke with Dolia González immediately after he wrapped up the final telephone call with the governor's office.

"She was very, very happy. She said this is good news," Peña recalled. "She told me, 'I think I am ready. Freddy's ready. Let's do this.' Those were her exact words."

Residents or groups which want more information on the event as it evolves, or to offer suggestions or help, may call Peña's district chief-of-staff, Orlando Salinas, at 383-7444, he said.

"We we want to make her happy, and show her our appreciation," Peña added. "We have to honor his memory, but we are going to honor her as well. That is my intention."

Mayor Pro Tem Alma Garza, who led the city council session because Mayor Joe Ochoa was excused on important business, said the upcoming ceremony will speak volumes of Freddy and his mother, Dolia, as well as of the entire city.

"It will again send the message to the entire state and nation that Edinburg is the home to heroes," said Garza.

Legislative Medal of Honor

Read the Resolution Here

Legislative Media reports on major legislation that affects South Texans. John Flores, author of When The River Dreams: The Life of Marine Sgt. Freddy González, contributed to this article.