ANTONIO L. SANTOS DAY
Be it known...
On August 10, 1944 Antonio L. Santos was born in Hondo, Tx., to immigrant parents Consuelo Lopez and Alfredo Santos of the Santos Ranch in D'Hanis. He married Evangelina Morales, daughter of Pete Morales, Sr. and Janie Rivera, owners of the famous, Moonlight Inn and had two children, Sandy and Steve Santos (all of Hondo).
When the call to arms reached Hondo, during the Vietnam War, Tony Santos volunteered and signed up. At the age of 21, Mr. Santos was called for active duty to serve our beautiful country, in the war of Vietnam. He returned, wounded from gunfire, with the bullet still in his head. Mr. Santos received the prestigious Purple Heart for his wounds, where his name can be found listed in the Legacy of the Purple Heart.
Tony, as he was known, became the founding director of the Texas Vietnam Veterans, leading marches throughout the state of Texas, in honor and in memorial of fallen Texas soldiers. On September 11, 2007 he received the blessing from his oldest child, an ordained minister in Richmond, Tx., and pastor of New Life Ministries, and was launched to conduct “Operation USA Proud” in honor of fallen heroes of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The march would end in Del Rio, on September 21, 2007. It was Hondo that was on his mind as he departed, arriving in Hondo to a hero’s welcome and parade through his own hometown.
What many did not know is that Tony had left Hondo as soon as he had arrived from Vietnam, after a horrible situation left one man, a fellow son of Hondo, dead. For over 30 years, Tony would not be able to return to Hondo, except for court hearings which ultimately exonerated the hometown hero of any intentional wrongdoing.
The parade through Hondo, and honoring celebration at Hondo’s prestigious park allowed Mr. Santos to finally come home and in a way that should always honor and receive our brave military.
This would be Tony’s last march.
Tony Santos passed away on June 14th, 2020. He left a legacy of great proportions affecting the lives of countless thousands. Having honored Gold Star Mothers, receiving the bones of numerous fallen soldiers, attending hundreds of funeral services to give honor and respect, and marching thousands of miles through the beautiful State of Texas, walking much of the Texas highways, alone. He and faithful volunteers would arrive in specified towns and city gatherings, handing out flags.
We, his children, Hondo natives, Sandy and Steve Santos, and his countless family members and friends of the great City of Hondo, will join people of all denominations, races, ages, and affiliations , as a grassroots expression of living Honor and Respect spreading worldwide, and as a powerful symbol of a people on the move.
This year’s gathering, and all future gatherings, will focus on the theme, “Take Cover”, Tony’s last words before he was struck, falling in Vietnam. The bullet remained lodged in his head his entire life.
We believe, and hold true, that this theme would further represent our current and new world’s pandemic situation: Covid-19. Mr. Santos had fallen ill two months before the crisis was made public and deceased not ever fully knowing what was happening in our world. We believe it to be a call to duty for future preservation. This is a message relevant to today’s world, and among the multiple words of wisdom Mr. Santos spoke over our lives, we choose to remember him with these.
The Antonio L. Santos Memorial Scholarship was established by his children, Sandy and Steve Santos, nieces Mary Ester Bendele and Pearl Rodriguez, all of Hondo, in honor of Mr. Santos and what he represented. Tony Santos is our hero.
The scholarship is designed to award local Hondo graduating students of the ROTC class in furthering their military careers. Tony’s legacy is recorded online at The Antonio L. Santos Memorial Scholarship.
The City of Hondo is pleased to extend best wishes for a blessed and meaningful Antonio L. Santos Day, annually, filled with renewal and hope, encouraging strength and peace.
Therefore, I, James W. Danner, Mayor of the City of Hondo in Texas, hereby proclaim August 10th, 2020 as: Antonio L. Santos Day, in Hondo.