Area soldiers unveiled a Chicano/Mexican American monument Monday, Nov. 11 at the Guadalupe Center in Scottsbluff to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of fellow soldiers in wars throughout America’s history. Following the Veterans Day parade, people gathered at the center for a program about the sacrifices of Chicanos as soldiers and veterans and how their stories will be memorialized through the monument.

Marty Ramirez, who came up with the idea for a monument, welcomed the community and shared the story of the veterans from the Scottsbluff High School Class of 1963.

Scottsbluff Mayor Ray Gonzales also welcomed the community to the dedication.

“I am deeply honored and privileged to be here today,” he told the gathered crowd.

Rev. Mike McDonald delivered the invocation for the dedication and said, “May the peace you gave us, be the peace that sustains us and the peace that unites and saves us.”

Members of the Gering Troop 17 Color Guard presented the colors. After posting the colors, the public headed outside for the unveiling of the monument. Pulling back the blanket covering the monument, the crowd applauded at the memorial. As they read the inscription on the monument, the playing of taps echoed through the air.

The community went back inside to enjoy a meal, but as they left, they stopped to read the memorial.

“I enjoyed it,” Homer Charo, who served in the Air Force during Vietnam, said. “I donated and I hope others do, too.”

When Charo first heard about the project, he was excited.

“I was glad when I heard about it,” he said. “I said, ‘All right, I’ll go for that.’”

Charo hopes the Chicano-Mexican American memorial will inspire others to follow suit.

“I would like to see blacks and Native Americans be recognized,” he said. “One of my friends died in Vietnam and is buried in the cemetery on Fifth Avenue.”

His name was Coil Edmund.

Monday’s unveiling marked the completion of another phase in the project. Next, Joe Perez, who is one of the veterans involved with the project, said they will work on installing a bench and pouring a concrete pad around the memorial. After that, they will develop a file of all the valley veterans.

“We need the families’ help because we don’t know all the veterans,” Perez said.

Following the program, Ramirez walked out of the Guadalupe Center and said, “We did it.”

Walking around the monument, the community can read about the Barrio veterans who served their country, understand the importance of religion for soldiers during their service through today and the men behind the monument.

People are encouraged to submit names of valley veterans, their military branch and their hometown to joeperez803@yahoo.com, or to learn more about the memorial.

We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.

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