The Corpus Christi Honor Guard posted the colors to begin Saturday's 25th annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Last Patrol Ranch near Benavides.Three names added to the

memorial wall Photo by SUE FLEMING

Sue Fleming, Duval County Correspondent

An early Memorial Day celebration was held Saturday afternoon at America's Last Patrol Ranch in Benavides to honor the memory of the many service personnel who have lost their lives while valiantly serving the country.

Vice Commander Abel Saenz opened the ceremony, welcoming family and friends to the 25th annual event.

Afterward, the Posting of the Colors was performed as the Patriots Band of Corpus Christi played the National Anthem.

Guest speaker, U.S. Army veteran David Benavides of San Antonio, was then introduced.

"We gather today to honor those men, those that have been called to sleep forever," he said.

On May 5, 1968, the first observance of Memorial Day was held and has been celebrated annually since, he said.

"After arriving today, I went to the cemetery in Benavides, and I looked at some of the names and some are my ancestors," he said. "I've always been curious about Benavides."

Saenz said he was interested in the history of the area and had done some research.

"I'm really not a speaker, but I like to read about history," he said smiling.

Benavides, Texas, was settled by Placido Benavides of Mexico. They were hiding there from political forces and founded the town in 1880, he told the crowd.

"In the 1700s, when this country was loaded with longhorn cattle, the governor of Louisiana came to Texas with 7,000 troops and also with the help of mucho vaqueros from South Texas, they gathered 15,000 cattle in 18 months. They then drove them back to Louisiana," he said.

"They fought the English all the way to Florida and defeated them, for they were eating steaks and the English were eating dirt and rocks."

Saenz said Memorial Day, a day of memory, was set up by a general in the 1860s to honor those who had fallen serving their country and is also a day to honor civilians lost as well.

"So we should not honor only those that fought after the 1800s, but also before that time," he said.

Afterward, three names were added by loved ones during the Memorial Wall Ceremony, U.S. Army Sgt. Marcial C. Besinaiz of Portland, Texas, who served with the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam from 1968 to 1971, died Dec. 8, 2006; Retired U.S. Air Force Sr. MSgt. Fernando Ramirez of San Antonio, who died Aug. 7, 2006; and U.S. Marine Corp. Staff Sgt. Naividad Mendiola Jr. of McAllen, who died Feb. 24, 2006.

Chaplain Sammy Espinosa then led the benediction.

Following that, the 21-Gun Salute was performed by the Corpus Christi Honor Guard as the service was concluded with the playing of "Taps."

Arturo Pecos read "In Loving Memory," a poem written in tribute of the occasion which concluded the service.