SARA PERKINS

The Monitor

EDINBURG, Texas (AP) Lisa Sekula tries to avoid her son's library.

The Edinburg mom oversaw the design process to make sure that Dusty Sekula's wild, loving spirit would live on in the case devoted to him at the entrance to the building. The display is a reminder of the towheaded 18-year-old Marine private first class who loved horses, the military and his mother.

But that just makes the heartache worse when she drives by more than if the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library were just another municipal building.

"For me, it's painful. I don't come here unless there's something I need to do here. And I don't pass this is (Business) 281, but I go around," she said.

Sitting in the foyer of the library Friday after a brief Memorial Day ceremony, Sekula squeezed a familiar hand: That of Dolia Gonzalez, another mother of an Edinburg soldier killed in action, 36 years before hers.

A new generation of war dead led by Sekula, the first Hidalgo County soldier to die in the Iraq war is taking its place alongside Alfredo "Freddy" Gonzalez and other war casualties whose names define the Valley's civic landscape.

The family of Mission-born U.S. Army Specialist Alex Gonzalez, who died in 2008 in Iraq, will re-christen Ala Blanca Park on Moorefield Road "Alex D. Gonzalez Community Park" this summer. His fellow Mission residents Cpl. Jose "Joe" Rubio and Sgt. Javier "Javi" Marin Jr. now have honorary name placards on the streets where they lived.

But such honors, families say, can be a terrible double-edged sword.

"If we had it to do all over again, we'd rather not have to have these (public) reminders," Sekula said.

She is honored by the building and determined that future generations realize what a hero her child was, she said but it's a difficult reminder for her and for Dusty's siblings, who she said also avoid the library since it was finished in March 2007.

Gonzalez said she must use the east-west thoroughfare named for her Freddy daily; "If I can," she said, "I don't."

She's devoted herself to the school named for her son, because of the children within, but she said she avoids the park.

The new generation of proud families say they are not accepting public honors naively.

When the Mission City Council agreed to grant the Rubio family an honorary plaque on First Street, his widow Jennifer Rubio knew that it would stare her in the face every time she left her home, whether for a gallon of milk or to drive their son Nikolai, now 2, to school.

She said it's going to hurt every time she sees it. However, she said, "I think it's a great honor for my son."

"I just want him to know his dad was a great

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.