by Natalie McNeely-DePeña
Natalie McNeely-DePeña, President of the TransCharity Foundation and it’s Mission Transition Initiative, shares her speech honoring “Chief”, Leo Silva CMSgt (USAF Retired), at the dedication of the Mission Transition, Veterans River Pavilion.
Good afternoon and Welcome to the brand-new home of Mission Transition’s “Veterans River Park Pavilion.” As I look out in the audience, I am touched to see so many friends, dignitaries, donors and colleagues whose lives have also been forever touched by the same man we honor today. My name is Natalie DePena, President of the TransCharity Foundation. Today marks the culmination of an idea that began years ago. An idea about a new and inspirational program of the TransCharity Foundation– for the creation of a tranquil respite that would aid in the recovery process for our Nation’s Heroes and bridge the bond with their families from clinical recovery to home. We are so thankful to so many of you, who have been with us every step of the way, so that this day would finally come.
Today we celebrate the Dedication Ceremony of this Pavilion to a man I love very much, a man my son calls “Uncle Leo” and a man whose hands and spirit I see and feel everywhere I look around this ranch. Today I am so blessed and privileged to honor our beloved Chief Leo Silva as we dedicate this Pavilion in his honor.
We honor Chief’s steadfastness and vision on the project, his quiet resolve, his unending hours and hard work on this project and his passion for helping those in need. His unending spirit will live on this land forever.
Please direct your attention to my right to the monument we will be unveiling this afternoon to honor Chief. You will see the base is a Cedar tree and the monument a Red Cedar. While most Texans work endlessly to clear Cedar from their lands, you may be surprised to learn a few things about the Cedar tree. Cedar trees are both revered and hold other meanings, in other cultures.
These include the values of Incorruptibility, and Native Americans saw the Red Cedar as a symbol of Protectiveness, Strength and Eternity. Once you peel away the tough bark, it is always so stunning to see how beautiful and smooth the wood is. When you cut a Cedar you will find its heart and the larger the heart, the stronger the Cedar. This tree reminds me of our cherished Chief and today I am honored to honor him.
I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Bo DePeña…my better half, also a man of few words and the President of Fidelity Partners…philanthropist, inventor, visionary and Board Chairman of the TransCharity foundation….Bo will you join me to unveil the monument and read the inscription with me.