Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day. I won’t enlighten you on the history of it this time. I will let you go to your Google machine and do your own research for that one. Instead, I will get a little indepth with what Veteran’s Day means to me and my family.
A few weeks ago, I went to H-E-B for the hunt of the day. As I searched for the perfect sandwich roll, I realized there was a man about 10 feet in front of me in a motorized scooter. He appeared to be between 80-90 years old. He stood from his scooter and grabbed an item from the shelf. The back of his hat read “Korean War Veteran.” I admire the veterans when I see them out and about. I must’ve smiled when I saw how independent he was and I wondered if his experiences in battle and the military affected that independence.
After I checked out, the Korean veteran was once again in front of me in his scooter as he was exiting the store. Approaching us from afar came another elderly gentleman, I estimated him to be about in his mid-70s. I noticed his hat to say “Vietnam War Veteran Navy.” He looked at the veteran on the scooter and as the two veterans passed each other, they both stopped and saluted each other in a very crisp salute that made this patriot get the chills.
Look, there are things in life that should cause you to stop and think things over. This is one of them. I stopped to think what those two men witnessed during the war they participated in. How they were to come home and continue life and expected to be normal. However, what the war veterans see are visions we cannot place ourselves in unless we have been there.
The veterans of this country are treated with reverence in this community, but sometimes we forget what being a war veteran really is. Our freedoms rest on their shoulders and what a burden they carry, some for a short while and some for a lifetime.
In a rural place like Atascosa County, when war broke out, everyone suffered. The load was on the families that sent their boys off the farm, on to a war and a lifestyle they had no inclination of. Local young men were transformed into heroes by the kids looking up to them back home.
Years ago, I spoke with Mr. Ray Orta about his friendship and closeness to my grandfather and his siblings. They grew up across the street from each other. Mr. Orta told me a story about growing up during World War II. He said times were hard because power and electricity was needed everywhere, at times there was no power in the house. He claimed the only house with a “wireless radio” was across the street at my grandfather’s house. At that time, my grandpa had to be about 10 years old. Mr. Orta remembers all the kids gathering around the radio for the daily report of the war and they would cheer everytime they heard of an American victory.
For the Veterans out there reading this, your country will never have the words to thank you, but I pray that you will always realize our appreciation for your service and sacrifice.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s column. Thank you for reading, until next time.
MARTIN GONZALES is the Atascosa County Commission Chairman. If you have history of Atascosa County you’d like to share, you may contact him at 830-480-2741.