EDINBURG — It took about four to five months for Zenon Yracheta to recover from a gunshot wound to his right arm that he sustained while serving two years in the Vietnam War.
But for Yracheta, 74, his time in the military had other impacts.
“In the beginning — nightmares, post traumatic stress,” he said, his eyes filling with tears.
But with time came healing, not just of his health but of the sentiments between Vietnam veterans like Yracheta and the American public.
“When we came from Vietnam, we had a lot of people that didn’t like us,” he said. “Now, we’re recognized and we feel very, very happy and comfortable.”
Yracheta was among two dozen veterans honored Thursday morning in a ceremony held to unveil a sign designating Hidalgo County as a Purple Heart County.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart consists of military men and women who received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds suffered in combat or by an act of international terrorism.
Hidalgo County accepted the designation during a commissioners court meeting on Aug. 28, 2018, receiving a street sign from Jon Lunkwicz, the department commander.
During the same meeting, the commissioners court passed a proclamation declaring the day as Purple Heart Day in the county.
“The people of Hidalgo County, Texas have great admiration and the upmost gratitude for all the men and women who have selflessly served their country and this community in the Armed Forces,” the proclamation stated.
Thursday morning’s ceremony was held to celebrate the official installation of the sign, which was affixed on the corner of Closner Boulevard and Mahl Street earlier this week.
There are now 75 counties in the state designated as Purple Heart Counties including neighboring Cameron County which held their own ceremony last year.
“It signifies that our community recognizes and respects all our wounded veterans and those veterans who paid the ultimate price and sacrifice,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez said of the designation.
Cortez said he hoped the ceremony served as a reminder that the county supports veterans and encouraged them to seek benefits available to them through the county’s Veteran’s Service Office.
“Hidalgo County residents are among the first to respond to the call of duty in times of conflict and in times of peace,” Cortez said. “Our Purple Heart recipients deserve all the recognition and support that we can provide.”