Nov 5, 2006
Day Five: Success! 125 Mile Veterans March Completed
From one end of the Valley to the other - 125 miles later - success comes to our small band of brothers as we entered the city of Roma, Texas this afternoon.
Our day started in Rio Grande City, where the marchers were briefly joined by General Sanchez who was visiting family in the border city.
Soon thereafter we were joined by Texas Rep. Ryan Guillen who also lives in the city. He joined the walk and continued on the journey to the very end.
The day was overcast but still warmer than previous days.
World War II veterans, some in wheel chairs, occasionally lined the road to wish us well. In this photo, Filiberto Zamora of Weslaco, may be nearing his 80th birthday, but this WWII vet walked with the best.
Our bodies were all tired but as our designation rapidly approached our spirits grew. Our numbers swelled as the city could be seen in the distance. Congressional candidates, Frank Enriquez and Eddie Zamora joined the march.
At last, I spotted the Roma city limits sign. This brought a certain amount of joy to my heart as the city was once the home to my grandfather and great grandfather. As a child I heard many a story about family life here. If time permits, I hope to visit my great-grandfather's home/business, which I understand is now the city museum in the historic district.
The jumbo sized flag in front of the Roma VFW, Post 9175, marking the end of our long journey, became visible in the distance. The pain in our feet left us when the cheers of the waiting veterans were heard. We hugged, shook hands and took pictures to mark the happy moment.
Congressman Henry Cuellar visited the VFW and as he and his challenger, Frank Enriquez, shook the hands of veterans a short distance apart, I greeted both of them. I kiddingly took advantage of the occasion and with a mischievous grin asked them to pose for a photo. They both laughed and each at roughly the same time said -"the blog!" Both were good sports.
We, elected officials and candidates, thereafter presented ourselves for questioning and a brief statement to the gathered audience of veterans.
I closed these five days with a brief speech of affection and commitment to what has become a very close band of brothers I now call friends. This journey brings it to 375 miles that these good and decent people from my community have walked for a VA Hospital in the Rio Grande Valley. In that time I have come to understand the strength a small committed group can bring to a just cause. My last words to the veterans was my commitment to work with continued purpose to see that this veterans' hospital was built. Until that time, on call, I will be ready, willing and hopefully able to walk once again when needed.