Reader View: For Velez family, two sons lost to war
Posted: Saturday, July 5, 2014 7:00 pm
By Larry Davis |
After more than $2 trillion spent, almost 4,500 dead and 32,000 wounded Americans sacrificed for Iraq, we ask how can it be that all our efforts seem to have been for naught. And it is hard not to wonder if the U.S. experience in Iraq is the worst episode of squandered American valor in our nation’s history. Historians will have to decide that but, since I heard that Fallujah had fallen, I just keep thinking of a family in Lubbock, Texas, and how terrible it must be for them to watch the news from Iraq.
Freddy’s younger brother was in Afghanistan that awful day, fighting his own battles for his country. The military allowed him leave so that he could accompany and escort Freddy’s body home to Lubbock for a funeral with full military honors. I remember the photos in the local newspaper, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, of Freddy’s mother and father, and of his young soldier brother. Such a handsome family and somehow so strong and brave as they dealt with a heartbreak too many American families have experienced when their sons and daughters have given, what President Abraham Lincoln called, “the last full measure of devotion.”
Tragically, it was not to be the last time the community would turn out for a Velez family funeral.
Freddy’s brother, Andrew, had signed up shortly after his big brother and just before he deployed to Afghanistan, he had married his high school sweetheart. The separation must have been tough for both of them, as it must be for all young married military couples. But it was to prove especially tough for this young couple. All too soon, Andrew had to return to his unit and his war in Afghanistan. Tragically, not long after arriving back with his unit, he hung up the phone and took his own life.
When I heard that Fallujah had fallen, I could not stop thinking about the Velez family of Lubbock. I wonder how a family deals with the terrible price they have paid for our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Velez family gave their two sons in the service of our nation, one to the wounds he suffered while saving his friends at Fallujah, and another in Afghanistan, suffering from the wounds of a broken heart.
Larry Davis is a former Texan who now lives in Santa Fe.