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At Purple Heart Memorial, Veteran Says He Doesn't Cry Much, But...

Bexar County officials joined veterans in downtown San Antonio Thursday to honor the community's war heroes.

More than 100 people attended a ceremony to add 51 names to the Purple Heart memorial at the Cadena Reeves Justice Center.

August 7 was Purple Heart Day, and members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Alamo Chapter 1836, gathered in front of the Cadena Reeves Justice Center on Dolorosa to pay their respects to 51 war heroes whose names were added to the memorial this year.

Col. Mark Costello, U.S. Army Ret., was wounded in Iraq. He told the audience of the sadness he feels when soldiers are killed or wounded in service, including the death of Maj. Gen. Harold Greene in Afghanistan just two days earlier.

"I don't cry much," Costello said. "I don't cry much at all anymore. But I'll tell you, I had tears rolling down my eyes. And it doesn't make any difference what rank that person was. That was an American soldier."

Costello, who was assigned to Army South out of Fort Sam Houston before his retirement, said it’s his first time to be involved with the purple heart ceremony.

"I think much of the general public doesn't understand what the Purple Heart is. It's the only award given, the only medal given, for being wounded by the enemy. If you see a colonel like myself and we've got a bunch of ribbons and stuff, our soldiers earn those for us. This is really the only award that we earn. Not that we want it, but we get it," he said.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said it’s important for governments to show their support of military heroes.

'You know, we are Military City, USA. We've got the largest number of retired Air Force personnel here. So we've done everything we can to support veterans," Wolff said. "What we did with this memorial, what we did with the Medal of Honor Memorial that just opened, what we've done with the veterans court that's saving lives."

The Purple Heart memorial, first dedicated in 2006, now has more than 400 pavers bearing the names of wounded or killed soldiers. Also on county property are The U.S.S. San Jacinto and U.S. submarines Still on Patrol Memorials on the south end of the Bexar County Courthouse.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.