Last Wednesday, more than 50 veterans, family members, UTRGV staff, faculty and students gathered in PlainsCapital Bank El Gran Salón on the Brownsville campus to honor veterans.
“We pay tribute to all of our veterans who have worn the uniform, in times of peace, and in war,” Rand Binford, the keynote speaker and the education coordinator for the Texas Veterans Commission, said to the crowd after the posting of colors by the Brownsville Police Department. “We pay tribute to all of our veterans on the 11th of September. We remember and mourn the loss of our brothers, our sisters, our daughters, mothers [and] sons. Those who paid the ultimate price defending our nation.”
Binford, who served the U.S. Army for 35 years, retired after realizing “36 would be taking it too far.” Between laughs and jokes about his years in the Army, Binford said he is not a “lifer” and that “35 years was just about the right amount of time.”
Taking the audience through conflicts, he spoke about World War I and similar events that may now seem far away from us.
“I believe that our nation, of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish for so long as our citizens are willing to place their lives away to protect one another,” Binford said.
After the UTRGV Master Chorale and Chamber Singers performed “God Bless America,” the audience welcomed Martin Rodriguez, the director of the Military and Veterans Success Center at UTRGV and a U.S. Army veteran, to the lectern to present a “small token of appreciation” to Patricia H. Rodriguez, the program coordinator in the same department.
“Despite the fact that today is a day to honor the veterans, I wanna take a few minutes to honor someone who has assisted many veterans for 25 years of her 28-year career,” Rodriguez said.
Patricia Rodriguez helped him obtain a work-study position when he was a college student at the University of Texas at Brownsville.
“Thanks to her, I was able to work and come to school at the same time,” Martin Rodriguez said.
Martin Rodriguez presented a video of Patricia’s son Joshua Rodriguez, a U.S. Marine who has been serving for a year and is stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
“Hey, Mom, thanks for your 25 years of dedication and hard work to those who serve our country. Today is really your day. The work that you do is just a quarter of the work that I do,” Joshua Rodriguez said in the video. “I am extremely proud of you. I love you very much and I will see you soon.”
As members of the audience and Patricia Rodriguez teared up, Martin Rodriguez called her to the lectern to receive a service appreciation award.
“I really, really, really got really emotional,” Patricia Rodriguez said. “I was very surprised. It was a total surprise, because I didn’t even see the program. … I was just told to sit at the front and take pictures.”
After the ceremony, the audience enjoyed cupcakes, cookies, pies and a small toy soldier with a card on which the “Soldier’s Prayer” was printed.
In Edinburg, the ceremony was held Thursday.
For more information about veterans at UTRGV, visit www.utrgv.edu/veterans.