Despite the huge increase in wounded warriors accommodated this year during Warrior’s Weekend in Port O’Connor, the organizers and community came together once again to provide a unique experience for soldiers, their families and anyone who participated in Warrior’s Weekend 2013. As for the previous six Warrior’s Weekend, thousands from POC, South Texas and, indeed, the entire country provided visiting wounded veterans and their families a weekend of fishing and fun.
Although the focus is to support those who have sacrificed in the service of their country, it’s clear from speaking with volunteers and observers that everyone is touched by the spirit of Warrior’s Weekend. As the soldiers departed from the many charter buses arriving in POC, many of those waving flags and clapping were also overcome by the emotions of the moment.
Contrary to the reaction many veterans suffered when returning from Vietnam in the 1960’s and 1970’s, today’s returning soldiers are finding that regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about our country’s participation in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are much more supportive and thankful for their efforts and sacrifices. And while there are other events and programs aimed at honoring our wounded veterans, Warrior’s Weekend is unique in it’s scope, organization and genesis. What began as a local effort among Victoria residents to honor local fallen and wounded soldiers have grown incredibly over the past seven years as thousands have contributed ever increasing amounts of time and contributions.
It’s also clear that Port O’Connor cherishes this opportunity to come together as a united little village in ways that transcend any boundaries of income, occupation, race or age. We’ve not found anyone in POC who doesn’t get caught up in the spirit of the event. Businesses purchase flags and banners to display all along Highway 185; school children participate in preparations; local residents assemble gift baskets; and many homeowners donate their properties to house veterans and volunteers who have driven into POC for the event.
As the last charter bus rolled out of Port O’Connor this past Sunday, it carried not only its honored passengers — it also carried with it the assurance the memories from this year’s Warrior’s Weekend would never be forgotten. Perhaps enhanced by next year’s event, but never forgotten. As for this author, I shall never forget the eyes of those with whom I shook hands. It was difficult to know who was more thankful — me, for their service, or the soldier for the way this town was honoring his or her sacrifice.
Either way, it was, once again, a weekend to remember.