Heroes and Heritage returns

Governor awards presented to teachers, community members


Sydnie Harrell, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Five prestigious awards were given out to high school teachers and community members at a presentation put on by Heroes and Heritage and sponsored by HEB.

“It’s always special anytime our teachers and employees get recognized for their accomplishments,” Principal Derrick Byrd said. “Anytime our students can be presented with opportunities, it’s a really good thing, and Heroes and Heritage did that.”

Counselor Roland Cadena received the Admiral in the Texas Navy Certificate and journalism teacher Debi Petty, science teacher Mary Long, community members Kathleen Dubose Calame and Nancy Saathoff were the recipients of the Yellow Rose of Texas award at the high school presentation.

“The [Yellow Rose of Texas] award is the most prestigious and highest award that the governor of the state of Texas can provide to any woman,” President and CEO Fernando Rey said. “You don’t necessarily have to be a teacher; you might be a female community leader.”

The recipients were nominated by Rey, counselors and administrators. The nominees then had to submit a biography to be looked over by Governor Greg Abbott.

“The nomination and award were both very unexpected but very much appreciated,” Mrs. Petty said. “Heroes and Heritage is always very engaging, and they always present numerous opportunities to our students.”

In addition to the awards, Heroes and Heritage also had seven members of the Coast Guard talk to students about patriotism, leadership and opportunities in the Coast Guard.

“The United States Coast Guard has positions and opportunities that are different than any other service,” Rey said. “There are so many career paths within the Coast Guard. It is an honorable profession.”

Heroes and Heritage was started by Rey in 1995, and it expanded in 2000 to student presentations. Its purpose is to bring recognition to veterans and inform students about their role as citizens.

“We felt the need to talk to students throughout the country about the importance of patriotism and about the importance of leadership development,” Rey said. “We’re not asking students to like any president; we’re asking students to remember that this is America.”

Rey chose to bring the organization to Devine first in 2017 and again this year because of the lack of exposure small schools receive.

“The children from small communities like Devine, Lytle, Castroville and Hondo are wonderful kids with great parents,” Rey said. “In the bigger cities, nobody thinks about you guys. That’s why I’m here”

Rey also wanted to come to Devine because of the experience his wife had here growing up. Wife and manager Mary ‘Alamar’ Fernandez Young graduated from Devine High School in 1960 and then served in the Air Force for 50 years before retiring and turning to help with Heroes and Heritage.

“It’s really good to be back home and give back a little bit to the community, especially to the students,” Young said. “We want them to like what they hear, and we hope that something will stay with them.”