CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Iconic Sherrill Park has been the stage for countless Memorial Day observances over the years.
The park along the Corpus Christi bayfront appeared pack with more emotion on Monday after last year's smaller numbers because of the pandemic.
As the strains of "Amazing Grace" were audible over the park, the faces of those in attendance seemed lost in deep thought and remembrance.
Some were family members of those killed on the field of battle.
These people are a special community that shares a bond of common grief.
They are the Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Families.
Memorial Day reopens old wounds but also instills in them new pride.
Among them were sisters Mary Maldonado and Rosie Perez, who are regulars at these Sherrill Park gatherings.
They come every year to remember their brother Jose G. Cortez, who was serving in the Army when he was killed in Vietnam on Feb. 9, 1968.
His sister Rosie put aside her personal grief to offer a condolence to others like her and her family.
"Every family that has lost a loved one in battle are very courageous," Perez said. "My heart goes out to every single family that has loved a loved one."
Sherrill Park, renamed some years back as Sherrill Veterans Memorial Park, is a fitting location for these gatherings of remembrance.
It is named after 21-year-old Warren Joseph Sherrill, who was Corpus Christi's first casualty in World War II.
Sherrill was serving on the U.S.S. Arizona when it was attacked in Pearl Harbor and sunk on Dec. 7, 1941.