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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

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Honoring Sacrifice: Commending our San Gabriel Veterans

 

   “We owe this to our families, children, and friends,”’ emphasized Art Hernandez.

   Walking into San Gabriel’s Plaza Park’s first annual Veterans Ceremony, flags decorated the yard and men in retired veteran uniforms could be seen all around. Displays were placed on the side, and the local police force was present to show their appreciation.

   One display that gathered the most attention was the Hernandez.  Art Hernandez and his wife Jill Hernandez have celebrated Veteran’s Day for 10 years. 

   The display showcased uniforms and pictures from the Hernandez families. Along the way, the Hernandez’ were able to listen and understand the journeys of these veterans presented in their display.

   Prominently pictured was Ed, a male veteran who served in the army for 40 years. Images of his time in the army were presented for all to see. Art Hernandez’s main focus was to spread information about veterans’ experiences that seems to no longer be taught in schools or can be found in textbooks. As a former maintenance worker at San Gabriel High School, he is familiar with the curriculum around battles our country has faced and what it lacks.

   Taking the time out of his and his wife’s lives to travel around the San Gabriel Valley, the Hernandezes share this display in schools, funerals, and celebrations in recognition of veterans like Ed.

   Ed was first drafted in 1971, and he believed that the army was his true calling. After being stationed in Vietnam for 9 months, Ed was placed in Iraq for Iraqi Freedom Operations 1 and 2. 

   Fortunately, Ed made it back home alive, but the violence he faced in Iraq was just as present in America. When Ed landed at Los Angeles International Airport dressed in his khaki army uniform, he was met with rash reactions from an elderly woman.

   “The first time I came home, I got spit on and slapped,” Ed stated. 

   Coming home to such disgust after saving lives while risking his evoked self-deprecating emotions in Ed. 

   “A lot of people were angry about something they did not understand,” criticized Ed. 

   However, not everyone treated him with such hatred. An African-American male waved Ed inside the men’s restroom and expressed that he would not be able to get a ride while dressed the way he was. The man lent Ed new clothing and flagged down a cab for him and three other veterans who were just trying to get home. 

   Art, a wounded army veteran, avoids large crowds due to the lasting scars from his first year of service. Despite his fears, he gathers the courage to attend veteran ceremonies, proudly displaying his Purple Heart medal as he congratulates fellow veterans for making sacrifices for their country.

   The Hernandezs’ dedication to honoring veterans preserves the stories of sacrifice and service and highlights the importance of empathy and understanding in recognizing the true cost of freedom.

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About the Contributor
Gabrielle Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Gabrielle Rodriguez is a Staff Writer for the school newspaper, currently in her first year with the team. Outside of her journalistic duties, Gabrielle is passionate about volunteering for the youth and projects in relation to the arts. Her decision to join the newspaper stemmed from her love for English and the opportunity to be in a class focused on writing.
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