Orange Grove residents took time during their centennial to honor the veterans who proudly served from the Orange Grove area.
Orange Grove Mayor Seale Brand started the presentation, speaking about the strengths of Orange Grove, and the strong work ethic all residents share.
He stated the heart of the community is the school district, which is the best example of what is great about the city of Orange Grove.
Brand said those who served in the military did not gain their strong work ethic from their training, but from growing up in a community like Orange Grove. The military didn’t make them great, great people are raised in Orange Grove, Brand said.
Ernest Henderson then stepped to the stage and read off the names of all the past mayors and city council members over the last 100 years, including current council members Lonnie Wostal, Carl Srp, Norma Cornejo, Noe Aguilar, Natalie David and Mayor Brand.
He also introduced a long list of special guests to the centennial celebration.
These included State Senator Juan Hinojosa, State Representative Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles, District Judge Richard Terrell, County Judge L. Arnoldo Saenz, JWC Sheriff Oscar Lopez, Pct. 3 County Commissioner Oswald Alanis and Justice of the Peace Luz Paiz.
Also on hand was Norma Ludecke, who at 96 years old, may be the oldest living person born in Orange Grove, officials said.
State Sen. Hinojosa said Orange Grove has always exemplified what is good and strong about the area.
“You always sense unity and American culture in Orange Grove,” Hinojosa said.
Hinojosa said as a veteran, he understands the importance of the service and the sacrifice made by Orange Grove’s citizens over the last 100 years. In addition to a special state proclamation in honor of Orange Grove’s 100th Anniversary, Hinojosa also presented Brand with a special gavel from the state senate.
“We need to remember friends and family members who are serving this day,” Hinojosa said. “For those in the Middle East, fighting for our freedom, fighting for a way of life.”
State Rep. Toureilles also said many kind words concerning Orange Grove military members, and also shined a light on the district’s schools, which are a focal point for the community.
“The people of Orange Grove have an excellent school district they should be proud of,” Toureilles said.
Brand said both Hinojosa and Toureilles are truly people of the people.
“And we’re glad you’re representing us,” Brand said.
Veteran Lupe Ramon Jr. spearheaded the veteran plaque presented on Saturday.
“What a privilege as we gather together to celebrate our citizens,” he said.
When he started this project a year ago, Ramon never thought there would be 22 names on the plaque.
“We came up with 22 names, people just kept coming out of the woodwork. Miss Betty (Box) would make all sorts of calls. I know there’s more still out there, and there are more military retirees still to come from Orange Grove, so there will be an addendum,” Ramon said.
A special speaker, Ret. Air Force Colonel John Wright, detailed some of the history he witnessed in the military and about the importance of the nation’s veterans as a whole.
He walked on stage alongside Ramon, and while the 22 names were called out, Col. Wright saluted each one as they stood to be recognized.
Among that number was Frank Medrano, who gave a stirring history of the Orange Grove area from the beginning to today.