AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Respect and honor are two words you’ll hear mentioned often on Memorial Day, as the memories of armed forces veterans and their sacrifices are observed.
But at the Texas Panhandle War Memorial, respect and honor for veterans and their families is year round.
For U.S. Military veteran Carlos Pena, service comes naturally.
“I did a total of 21 years in the service and retired out,” said Pena, a TPWM Board Member.
Pena loved serving in the military so much, he joined multiple branches.
“I started off with the Marine Corps. I did nine years with the Marine Corps and deployed with them in 2004 to Fallujah,” he explained. “Then after that, I lateraled over to the Army.”
That same drive to serve the country, steered him to serve his fellow veterans with the TPWM.
“Our mission is to provide a central location to honor the sacrifice all volunteer servicemembers sacrificed for,” he said emphatically. “Also, to pay homage to our gold star families.”
The memorial serves all 26 counties in the Panhandle, and honors veterans and Gold Star Families, which are families who’ve lost loved ones in battle.
Pena said this is why he cherishes his position on the TPWM Board of Directors.
“To be a voice on the board as a veteran, I think it’s a good way to keep our traditions going when we have these ceremonies,” he told us.
The memorial offers a museum, displays of vintage military aircraft, and Pena says it’s the perfect place to honor and cherish the memories of these servicemembers.
“The Panhandle area has some of the biggest military supporters,” he said.
The memorial has plenty of free services to veterans, including a growing partnership with the Center for Brain Health.
“I take it personally, being on two deployments and see what post-traumatic stress is, and brain injury,” he told KAMR. “So being part of something like this, especially bringing it to the Panhandle, is very big.”
For more information, including donation and Memorial Day activities, click here.