Photos & Story By Herman Delgado
I drove my daughter to school on Sept. 11, 2017. As I walked her to the entrance of the school, it hit me real hard. I started thinking about all the people that left their home, walked their children to school, kissed their loved one’s goodbye or got dropped off at the airport to catch a flight. I had a chance to stop at the school’s front desk and write a small note to put in my daughter’s lunch box, “Have a great day Mamas! I love you Baby…Daddy 9/11/17.” I thought about my little note as I walked back to get in my truck and I got very emotional. I thought about all those people that left their homes for the last time 16 years ago, and how they never had a chance to write one last note to their loved ones.
I drove out to the Old Glory Memorial located in Northeast El Paso, to meet a shipmate of mine who served with me during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I meet up with Juan Carlos Ornelas. We gave each other a big brotherly hug, and immediately started talking about our daughters. Ornelas served in the U.S. Navy for 27 years, and recently retired. This tragic day and event are very important to both of us and made a significant impact on our lives. “I’m here to pay respect to all the fallen first responders and civilians who perished on that unforgettable day,” Ornelas continued. “I also brought along both of my daughters, Lydia and Clarissa, with me, so I can teach them to respect and to understand the history behind ‘Never Forget,’” Ornelas said.
Jimmy K. Melver is in charge of an all-volunteer crew that oversees The Old Glory Memorial. He makes sure that things are running smooth on the grounds. Many Veterans, active duty personnel, and civilians have gathered on Sept. 11, 2017, to pay their respects to the fallen and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice on account of what took place around our nation on Sept. 11, 2001.This memorial would not be possible without so many people who contributed their time, effort, and financial support. “Tony Lewis and Bob Soltis came to me and asked me to help raise money for this project,” Melver said. “It took us two years to raise $70 thousand just for the flag pole.”
In December 2003, the flagpole went up thanks to concrete donated by Stanley Job and construction work by John Mimbela’s crew. “If it wasn’t for these two businesses, our flag pole would not exist today,” Melver said.
God Bless America!