IMPERIAL – In between Brawley and Imperial on Highway 86 is a small, lonelyÂ cemetery. Barren, dry, and cracked dirt surround the head stones and graves sites of the people buried there.
The occasional solar-poweredÂ lights glow during the night, withÂ flowers marking the graves during the day, but as one drives by, it seems to have been forgotten, with little care paid to the upkeep of the sacredÂ grounds.
Roy Dorantes, a peace time veteran of the Army Reserves pulled over one day and examined the cemetery, discovering 76 different grave sites belonging to veterans from WWI, WWII, Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Motivated by his belief in Americaâ€™s freedoms and his desire to fight for them, Dorantes was inspired to create a film and book series, documenting and honoring the 76 veterans he found that day, buried in the cemetery, and others still alive.
Dorantes in creating his film asked two questions, â€œWhy should we respect veterans?”, and “What can the community do for them?â€
Dorantes reached out to the American Legion in El Centro, to find and connect with the different veterans still living in the Imperial Valley. By spending time with the veterans, he slowly earned their trust.
Through his film, and the trust he gained with the veterans, Dorantes was able to give them an opportunity to answer these two questions themselves, in a open and anÂ emotionally, raw way.
The personal accounts in the film include veterans from the Vietnam, Korea, Gulf and Iraq wars. It captures in their own words a point of view, that from their perspective few in the United States truly appreciate the freedoms that they enjoy every day. Freedoms that exist, because of the veterans who have fought for and continue to keep safe.
In the film there is a recurring theme and answer to both questions he posed. Above all, our veterans want, â€œrespectâ€ and that many feel forgotten, neglected, and unappreciated for their service to our country.
The film is a rare look into the lives and sacrifices our veterans have made. It also shines a light on how much it means to veterans to be respected and thanked for their service to our country.
The film, â€œRespect Dueâ€ is funded by Roy Dorantes and it will be touring Southern California. It debuted November 11th, 2014 and will end its tour May 25, 2015 on Memorial Day. It will be free and open to the general public.
â€œRespect Dueâ€ will have 76 different events, with each one dedicated to a different veteran from the 76 veterans resting at Memory Gardens Cemetery in Imperial.
The event at IVC, held on Thursday, November 13, was dedicated to Seth Grimes, WWII veteran.
The new pending owners of Memory Gardens Cemetery, JRK International Group Incorporated, in a statement to Dorantes said, â€œWhen ownership isÂ finalized, we willÂ do everything in ourÂ power to restore respect to the veteransâ€.
Additional Screenings of â€œRespect Dueâ€ will be on the following dates:
Tuesday, November 18th – 6pm
548 Broadway Ave. El Centro
Wednesday, November 19th – 5:30 pm
Holtville Public Library 101 E. 6th St Holtville
Thursday, November 20th – 5:30 pm
City of Imperial Library 200 W. 9th St. Imperial
Monday, November 24th – 6 pm
Del Rio Branch Library 1501 â€œIâ€ St Brawley
Wednesday, November 26th – 5:30 pm
El Centro Library 1140 N. Imperial El Centro
Tuesday, December 2nd – 6:30 pm
Hidalgo Hall 410 Cesar Chaves Brawley
Proceeds from book and video sales will go towards funding of the tour.[envira-gallery id=”44591”]