This year, there was no parade or a ceremony outside City Hall in Harker Heights to honor the fallen on Memorial Day 2020.
The threat of COVID-19, along with the state-mandated precautions of the wearing of masks, washing of hands and social distancing of 6 feet and no more than 10 people gathering in one place, tried to steal the headlines, but city leaders agreed that they would honor those who paid the ultimate price in one way or another.
Using social media, specifically Facebook, the work of a creative team representing several city departments produced a 15-minute video as the focus of an online Memorial Day Remembrance Program.
The video premiered at 10 a.m. on Monday and is still on the city’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/harkerheightstx.
Nichole Broemer, activities center and events manager said, “ The city and Veterans Council wanted to observe this important day and to honor our fallen service members by offering a virtual program in addition to the use of monuments and flags at City Hall.”
U.S. flags surrounded City Hall at 305 Millers Crossing. A wreath was placed next to the Veterans Monument and as a part of the remembrance, residents were invited to submit a single photo with the person’s full name and rank and service date. The photos and information were displayed on the Harker Heights Memorial Day Remembrance website at www.ci.harker-heights.tx.us/memorialday.
On Memorial Day, residents were invited to pause wherever they were by pausing for one minute at 3 p.m. to remember those who died in military service.
The highlights of the video included the posting of the colors by the Harker Heights Fire Department Honor Guard, represented by Lt. Matthew Truitt and Lt. Ray Gandara, and the Harker Heights Police Department Honor Guard represented by Sgt. Raphael Baumgaertel and Officer Peter Quichocho.
Tatiana Toribio, a 2020 graduate of Harker Heights High School, performed the national anthem “live” on-tape followed by comments from Spencer Smith, mayor of Harker Heights.
In summary, Smith said, “ The emphasis of Memorial Day has always remained on those who have perished. Remember our Gold Star Families — the spouses, children, parents, siblings and others who have been left behind to grieve everyday over their lost loved ones.”
Col. Ralph Overland, commander of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, also offered thoughts. “Memorial Day is a national day of remembrance and solemn reverence,” he said. “It is a day to recognize the fallen for their achievements, courage, dedication and sacrifice in honor of our nation. Our regiment celebrated its birthday on May 19, marking 174 years of service to our country.”
An instrumental version of “The Armed Forces Medley,” was also played. The popular tune honors the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army.
The video concluded with a recorded version of taps.
Adam Trujillo, activities center specialist, completed the audio/visual production of the video with a support team including the Veterans Council, Activities Center, HHFD, HHPD, Information Technology, Parks and Recreation, Stewart C. Meyer Public Library, City Council, the City of Harker Heights and the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce.