Hundreds honor fallen veterans in ceremony at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery

Rows upon rows of US flags, large and small, flew at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery on Monday morning as mothers, daughters, sons, fathers and other loved ones gathered to honor the nation’s lost veterans.

“Our nation does not forget the brave,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Bryan Radliff said during his address at the ceremony. “Those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, they are all cared for throughout their final journey.”

Hundreds attended the event in Dallas’ Mountain Creek area. It was the first ceremony at the cemetery in two years after the COVID-19 pandemic put a temporary halt to memorial events. The ceremony included a flyover, wreath and flag placement, and a cannon salute. The US Army’s 1st Cavalry Division Band played taps, and the Midlothian High School choir performed.

Starting with a World War II veteran, the names of those at the cemetery who were killed in hostile action, along with veteran first responders killed in the line of duty, were read aloud in the order in which they died. For each, a rose was placed on a chair that corresponded with their branch of service.

Rick Zamarripa walks down the aisle to place a flag on a grave for a friend at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas on Monday, May 30, 2022. His son, Patrick Zamarripa, served in the Navy and was among the officers killed in the downtown Dallas ambush in 2016.(Shafkat Anowar / Staff Photographer)

One of those roses was for Patricio “Patrick” Zamarripa, a Navy veteran and one of five Dallas police officers killed in a 2016 ambush downtown. His father, Enrique “Rick” Zamarripa, sat in the front row and wore a Dallas police shirt, a Navy hat and dog tags in his son’s honor.

Zamarripa said it meant a lot to see his son honored because he was a generous and humble man who sacrificed his life for others.

“I’m still proud of him,” he said. “It makes me glad that I’m out there and that I’m honoring him and all the other veterans and first responders that got killed.”

Another parent in the front row was Mable King, who has been volunteering at the cemetery since the 2015 death of her son, who served in the Army. King said she also has two other family members buried at the cemetery. She said she puts up flags and wreaths and also works at the cemetery’s front desk.

“It means a lot to come out for the celebration because these great men have served our country,” King said. “They didn’t have to go and fight, but they did.”

Ruth Boyer Harrell said it was nice to be around other families on Monday. Her father died when was she 13 and is buried at the cemetery, she said, and this was her first time attending the ceremony to experience the sense of community it inspires.

“It’s really cool to see how many people are here to remember those who aren’t around anymore,” Boyer Harrell said.

Members of the Texas National Cemetery Foundation Ceremonial Guard made their way to the ...
Members of the Texas National Cemetery Foundation Ceremonial Guard made their way to the stage for a wreath and flag placement at the cemetery Monday. (Shafkat Anowar / Staff Photographer)

Several in attendance said that the focus of Memorial Day should be honoring fallen veterans, not having barbecues or parties.

”They need to sit back and think about all the veterans that gave up their lives so that we can have more freedom and the rights that we have,” Zamarripa said.

Jeremy Jones drove to Dallas from Austin to see the burial place of his father, who died in November.

“It’s really the most humbling experience probably I’ve ever experienced before,” Jones said. “It’s crazy.”

Jones said it was incredible to see so many people show up for Monday’s ceremony.

“We’ve always known it was for more,” he said of the holiday. “But when you come out here, then you see what it truly is about. It makes you forget about the barbecues.”

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