LatinaLista — Every year, The Dallas Morning News chooses one Texan they label “Texan of the Year.”
This year’s recipient is a man by the name of Roy Velez.
What’s so special about this West Texan, Mexican-American is that his two sons, his only sons, Jose Alfredo (Freddy) and Andrew, lost their lives in Fallujah and Afghanistan respectively.
Roy Velez pays daily homage to his two sons Freddy and Andrew who is pictured in the photo.
Andrew was only 22 years of age when his brother’s death in Fallujah, coupled with his own tortuous experience in Afghanistan, propelled the young soldier to take his own life while serving in Afghanistan.
Yet, Andrew’s suicide doesn’t negate the sacrifice and inhumane anguish that Roy and his family have undergone.
Army Spc. Andrew Velez: Oct. 26, 1983-July 25, 2006
The newspaper article cites Roy’s enduring faith that gets him through each day while helping others who are attracted to tell their own stories of human loss to him.
Roy epitomizes what has long been known in the Latino community – we have just as fierce a loyalty and sense of duty when it comes to serving this country Â— no matter how far back we can trace our families’ arrivals to this country.
Cpl. Jose Alfredo Â“FreddyÂ” Velez: Oct. 21, 1981-Nov. 13, 2004
The U.S. Census reports that there are 1.1 million Hispanic veterans in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Though many in the Latino community have taken issue with military recruitment practices that seem to overly target Hispanic young people, the fact remains many still sign up for the benefits they are told they will receive: education, salary, etc.
Be that as it may, Roy’s sacrifice exemplifies a reality that was underscored by this weekend’s hanging of Saddam Hussein Â— the real war on terror is nowhere near ending since Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.
With Hussein’s execution and Osama Bin Laden’s invisible cloak, the only certainty that remains is that more soldiers will be subjected to a war where the enemy has devolved from being a defined one to one “guilty by suspicion.”
If this is the case, many more families like Roy Velez can look forward to sending their sons and daughters off to a war that only makes sense to those calling the shots.
But where this war lacks a coherent strategy, there is definitely one in place to garner support from the American people.
The most common rallying cry for an unpopular war is to invoke the memory of dead soldiers by saying “they did not die for nothing.”
It’s the ultimate guilt trip in recruiting support.
As we anticipate this phrase to be resurrected in the upcoming State of the Union Address, Roy Velez and the other families of the more than 3,000 troops that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan will certainly agree Â— their loved ones did not die for nothing; they died with honor.
And tienen razon. (they’re right.)
The more important question to be answered is: How honorable are leaders who knowingly send the future of a nation into battle with no foreseeable end?