Port Arthur municipal, community leaders join for inaugural event celebrating women veterans

Published 12:15 pm Monday, June 12, 2023

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Monday was more than a celebration of history but the start of the future, as the City of Port Arthur hosted the inaugural Women Veterans Recognition Program.

Just more than two months ago, a group of six women joined to create P.A.L.M.S — Port Arthur Linking Military Sisters. By Monday, they had the backing of many city leaders, elected officials and male veterans; but other women veterans came to learn about joining during the event at the Pavilion in Downtown Port Arthur.

Group Historian Stacy Landrio said the celebration stems from June 12, 1948, when President Harry S. Truman signed Women Veterans Day into law.

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“That allowed women to actually join the armed services,” Landrio said. “With that being said, women as a whole of all colors were able to serve their country.”

Landrio, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, served in the U.S. Navy for nearly 10 years.

“Our Governor Gregg Abbott took it upon his wonderful self to sign that law into Texas law on June 9, 2017,” Landrio said. “Whereas, our mayor, the honorable Thurman Bartie, followed suit in doing his homework and decided, well, let’s get these women veterans together and honor them. Because it’s law and it’s the right thing.”

The event began with a welcome by Assistant City Manager Albert Thigpen, Posting of the Colors by the Port Arthur Fire Department Honor Guard, the singing of the National Anthem by Memorial High School graduate Esmerelda Rezk, an invocation by Janice Milo, the Pledge of Allegiance led by Rosalind Queen, a welcome by Mayor Thurman Bartie, history from Landrio, a recognition of women veterans by Alma Juneau, Keynote Speaker Belinda Richard of the Beaumont Veteran Center, and a recognition of the six original P.A.L.M.S. members.

Following a benediction by the Rev. Zulema Escobedo, the Southeast Texas Veterans Group gave a 21 Gun Salute and played Taps.

Joe Tant of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce said the Chamber was glad to be present in support.

“We are celebrating our lady veterans today, but also celebrating all of our veterans — folks like Brian Swindel from Troop (Industrial) who serves on our Board of Directors,” he said. “And we’re just excited to be a bit of a help to the city.”

On June 9, Bartie signed a proclamation designating June 12 as Women Veterans Day in Port Arthur.