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Decades of Celebration

Updated: Mar 17

(This article was written by Steven Hughes and appeared in the Explore Harlingen Magazine, November 2023 issue.)

Photo courtesy of John Combs, committee member for Veterans’ Memorial Project Committee

Cities in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) will blast empty bullets and wave the United States and Texas flags in continuing over seven decades of honoring veterans.

“It’s the right thing to do,” George Rice, Veterans Land Board On-Site representative for the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission, said over the phone. “If you look at the warrior cultures, honoring veterans who served in wars has been a key part of those empires and military-based societies.”

According to Rice, approximately 58,000 veterans call the Valley home and the RGV State Veterans Cemetery is the resting place for approximately 3,400 veterans.

From city parades to ceremonies featuring a color guard, RGV cities collaborate with local veteran-supporting organizations to ensure legacies.

One of these organizations is the Veterans’ Memorial Project Committee at Pendleton Park in Harlingen.

The committee worked for several years to create their memorial for its 2012 dedication ceremony in honor of Darrell Shipp, a Harlingen local, who died bravely in Iraq in 2007. Since then, the committee has hosted three annual events to reflect its mission for veterans.

The committee will host its annual Veterans Day program at 11 a.m. on November 11 in collaboration with the Harlingen Police Department, Boy Scouts Troop 1701, and invited local veterans.

“I am proud to have something to do that we started up and get it ready for people to enjoy,” Lenore Combs, the secretary for the Veterans’ Memorial Project Committee, said over the phone. “The other side of me is disappointed when we don’t get many people out [in attendance]. We used to have 200 seats; now, we’re lucky if we fill 100.”

The committee will also host its upcoming Wreaths Across America Day at 11 a.m. on December 16 and a sunset Memorial Day program in May.

For more information, visit the Veterans’ Memorial Project Committee’s website,


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