Video featuring Coachella Unincorporated youth reporter and Army Vet Raymond P. Bondad by Raymond P. Bondad, Aurora Saldivar, and Tony Aguilar with assistance from KMIR 6 Mentor Adrian DeLaTorre
Veterans Day As A Veteran
By Raymond P. Bondad
As 2011 starts to come to a close and the holiday season starts its roll, there’s one holiday that sticks out as my favorite. When I was a child, Thanksgiving and Christmas were the best every year but since my separation from the military, Veterans Day has always been my favorite holiday of all. It’s a day of remembrance, a day of smiles and great moments of reminiscing, and a day of thanking whomever it is you thank that you’re still able to celebrate life as every year passes.
I feel all sorts of emotions every Veterans’ Day. I’m proud of myself as well as proud of my fellow Veterans including my younger brother who’s a wounded combat Veteran, who followed my footsteps into the United States Army. When I came home from active duty as a Combat Engineer, he followed suit and enlisted into the US Army as an Infantryman. Until this day, our Mother calls us her two heroes, which draws tears from my eyes because, I’m not used to my parents being open about how proud of me they are. I feel sad when my Father would rather not go to a Veterans Day parade, but to the casino. And I become angry when the average young American’s initial thought of Veterans Day is a day-off from school or cookouts with friends. Alcohol sales go up and the carniceria is packed with people buying carne and pollo asada. In the end, very few Americans understand the meaning of Veterans Day.
A Veteran is more than a former Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman, or Coast Guardsman. A Veteran is a man or woman, who either was drafted and shipped off against their will or was an average American citizen who knowingly understood their potential fate, and still chose to volunteer his/her life for a contracted amount of years and very little pay. A Veteran is someone who has helped to preserve the rights entrusted in every American, to be exercised to every extent necessary to fulfill America’s promise of being a free country. Immigrants come to our country for a better life and better opportunities, for themselves and their children. I believe every citizen of the United States, whether legal or illegal, of all races, religions, origins and sexual orientation, should thank a Veteran for the rights and freedoms that they all exercise and enjoy. Even if you’re busy occupying, know that without our troops, your right to public occupation of Wall Street, Palm Desert Civic Center Park or Congresswomen Mary Bono Mack’s Palm Desert office would never happen. Know that because of our occupation in other countries enemy countries have not begun to occupy the United States of America and taken control of how we operate as a country. We separate church and state as well as have individual rights—let’s keep it that way. This Veterans Day, thank every Veteran you see and shake their hands.
* Raymond P. Bondad is a U.S. Army Veteran, COD Student and Coachella Unincorporated youth reporter who served in Iraq.