Having survived three roadside bombs, Corporal Anthony Gonzales remembers many fallen friends this Memorial Day Weekend. He served our country in the Iraq War, and was witness to many of the squalid living conditions and horrific crimes perpetuated by terrorist regimes in the Middle East.
As a close friend of our family, and the girl’s “Uncle Anthony,” I am very honored to share this interview of an amazing veteran.
As a veteran, what does Memorial Day weekend mean to you?
It’s a day dedicated to honor your fallen comrades in combat and those who made the ultimate sacrifice before you. It means the world to me.
Here in Houston, what are some ways you and other veterans commemorate Memorial Day?
A lot of buddies of mine like to ride their motorcycles and head to the cemetery of a friend buried there. I know some guys who do fitness challenges to commemorate the holiday. I myself like to get in a good workout to remind myself how blessed I am to be alive. I like to watch a few war movies and think about my friends I lost and the good times we had together.
Who are some of the people you particularly remember this weekend?
First, my buddy Jason Lemke. He was my guy and the only man I lost under my leadership. That will always hurt. He was my friend and a great soldier. Nick Olsen and Luigi Marciante are two other friends I lost. Another more recent one is my friend Kyle Buckley who committed suicide after the war. He was the only friend from the Army that I actually saw on a regular basis. His suicide hit me very hard.
I’ve heard some veterans express sadness that many celebrate Memorial Day in ways that might be insensitive. How can we mark Memorial Day in a manner that’s considerate to veterans and honors the memory of their friends?
I think having a special prayer before you kick off your festivities to honor the fallen would be a great idea. I once saw a video of Chris Pratt reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with his son on Memorial Day a few years back to reflect on the holiday and I was more than happy to see that. Small things like that go a long way. Also, parents, especially fathers, should take time to show their children, age appropriate, a war movie like Saving Private Ryan or American Sniper to show their children what the costs of freedom really looks like and why exactly we celebrate this special holiday.