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20110527-memorial-dayMISSION — U.S. Army Pfc. Diego Montoya will be recognized at the 8th annual Memorial Day Ceremony held at the Veterans Memorial at Placita Park on Monday.

Montoya died Sept. 2, 2010 in Laghman Province, Afghanistan of wounds he suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire.

He grew up here before relocating to San Antonio as a teenager.

At Monday’s ceremony organized by the Mission ACE Club, Montoya’s family will be recognized as his photo is placed at the memorial, said organizer Ofelia Peña-Perez.

“It’s a wall dedicated to soldiers who lost or sacrificed their life during battle,” she explained.

The event, which starts at the park along Conway Avenue at 6 p.m., starts with an invocation by Fr. Roy Snipes of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a welcoming by Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas. Former U.S. Rep. Eligio “Kika” de la Garza will serve as the keynote speaker. Mayor Pro Tem Leo Olivarez will also speak.

“Memorial Day is a day a lot of people advertise with sales,” Peña-Perez said, “but it has nothing to do with that. That park is dedicated to those soldiers who gave their lives and we meet to honor that.”

Mission’s celebration is much different in that it’s less formal, allowing family members to speak to the audience along with keynote speakers, she added.

“It’s really a very personal experience,” she said. “It’s something we’re all very proud of. This is a community team effort and the Mission Historical Museum, Chamber of Commerce and the city have been supporting us 150 percent.”

The free event continues at the Mission Historical Museum with a reception.

In McAllen, the public is invited to attend a program at the Veterans War Memorial of Texas, 29th and Galveston streets at 9 a.m.

Retired U.S. Army Col. David Kramer, a veteran of WW II as well as the Korean/Vietnam wars will be the keynote speaker to remember and honor the country's fallen veterans.

In addition to this annual ceremony, there will also be the groundbreaking for the long awaited American Spire of Honor. Officials said city and county officials would be in attendance to break ground for the 105-foot granite spire, which will be the actual memorial in the center of the complex.

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