Honoring heroes

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David Minton/DRC
The Blanton Elementary School Squire Choir, directed by Victor Lozada Jr., practices Tuesday for its performance today in the annual Dallas Police Memorial Day
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Blanton’s Squire Choir to perform today during Dallas services

Denton’s Blanton Elementary School Squire Choir will participate in the Dallas Police Memorial Day services today in Dallas.

The more than 50-member group is the only school participating in today’s services, which includes a march beginning at 11:50 a.m. from Griffin and Young streets to the Dallas Police Memorial site at Akard and Young streets and a memorial service slated for noon at Young and Marilla streets.

Led by music teacher Victor Lozada Jr., the choir will sing Mariah Carey’s “Hero.”

In addition, Squire Choir members will distribute bracelets to Dallas officers. The bracelets were made by children of fallen officers.

The Dallas Police Memorial Day ceremony is held annually during National Police Week to remember “officers that gave the ultimate sacrifice for the city,” said Dallas police Senior Cpl. Aundrea Vann.

Dallas police officials said the memorial service will include remarks from Mayor Mike Rawlings and Police Chief David Brown, a performance by the Dallas Police Choir, a reading of the “Roll Call of Honor,” a 21-gun salute, taps and a police helicopter flyover.

Vann said the name of each fallen officer will be called and the families of those officers, who are in attendance, will be recognized. Attendees will also have an opportunity to trace the names of fallen officers and their badge numbers from the Dallas Police Memorial.

Blanton school officials said the choir’s performance in today’s event is not only an honor but one of personal significance to the Blanton community.

Lozada’s father, Senior Cpl. Victor Lozada Sr., is one of 80 fallen officers being remembered today.

The 19-year Dallas Police Department veteran was killed Feb. 22, 2008, when serving as a motorcycle escort to then Senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Principal Karen Satterwhite said experiencing and participating in a ceremony that honors fallen heroes is something students will never forget.

“This is something that they’re never going to have another life experience like,” she said. “It may not … all sink in right now that the true impact and just the glory of getting to do this and the honor it is to be invited to participate and be a part of this ceremony.

“I’m not sure if that will sink into all of them right now exactly what it means, but with all my heart and soul, I know that at some point in their life, they’re going to look back and realize what an incredible opportunity they had to be a part of their community as a whole and to participate in something so powerful. And I know that if they don’t get it completely right now, that at some point in their life, they will get it.”

The Squire Choir has spent the last couple of months preparing for Dallas Police Memorial Day, said Lozada Jr. The students, he said, have worked “really hard” and are excited about the event. Today’s services, he said, are not only meant to pay tribute to fallen officers but to honor all officers.

“Some of the children in my choir have parents who are in law enforcement, so this is very special to them,” he said. “They feel very honored to be in this event, so it’s not just about my father but it’s about all police officers.

“When my father was alive, he always would tell me to do whatever would make me happy, and that would be the best life I could live, and music has always been a source of joy for me,” he said. “Being able to give back to the officers that have given so much to my family when he passed away means a lot to me, and I know that the kids don’t understand that right now but as time goes on, they’ll be able to understand it a little better.”

The music teacher said that when his students rehearse “Hero,” “they sit up a little taller and feel prouder to perform this song because they know it’s for a bigger purpose.”

He said it nearly brings him to tears and impacts him emotionally.

Lozada Jr., 27, joined the Blanton staff when the school opened in fall 2008.

When interviewing Lozada Jr. for the music teacher position, Satterwhite said she learned about his father and his recent death.

She said she felt that at some point this would impact the Blanton community and that it was the school’s destiny to one day honor a man they never met but who’s a “ huge part of this community and our world through his son.”

“I just knew that at some point we would get to celebrate the Lozada family and celebrate this man who is a hero to us, and for our kids to be a part of that, that to be a part of their world I think ... captures what true learning is all about,” she said.

Lozada Jr. said he remembers his father, who was 49 at the time of his death, as a hard-working man who was never too tired to come home and play with his family. He said his father enjoyed attending his choir concerts and wanted to be involved.

“I try a lot to honor my father in doing what makes me happy and what I feel would make him proud,” he said.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.

 


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