Community joins Veterans in 8 Mile Walk

Ernesto Mariscal (center) started the Veterans' March from Westmorland  to Brawley by himself three years ago
Ernesto Mariscal (center) started the Veterans’ March from Westmorland to Brawley by himself three years ago

BRAWLEY – Imperial Valley has never had a shortage of brave men and women, those who were willing to sacrifice their lives, to fight those desiring to destroy us, to keep the freedoms rolling and the United States secure.

Tuesday is Veterans Day, once named Armistice Day, a day so named to celebrate peace. Armistice was an agreement made by opposing sides in a war to stop fighting for a certain time, a truce.

Someone finally realized, there will never be lasting peace in our time or any time. Evil raises its head every generation and must be fought against by using the blood, guts, and lives of our honest, brave men and women.

So the name of the day was changed to Veteran’s. Now that is something that all of us can celebrate. In this valley, we all know someone who went to war, put their life on the line so the rest of us can enjoy Friday night football games, going to the desert, fishing on the canal banks, and hunting deer in the nearby mountains.

Ernesto Mariscal is one of those exceptional veterans. He returned home after serving 21 years in the army. He attended his first Veteran celebration and thought to himself, “That’s it? A few words, a few songs, and everyone goes home?”

Being a man of action, leadership, and drive, on the next Veteran’s Day, he grabbed his American Flag and walked from Westmorland to Brawley, by himself.

Last year, word had spread, and twelve joined him for the 8-mile walk. This Tuesday, over forty people, marines, navy, army, coast guard, and community supporters joined Mariscal. Bill Burns, an army veteran who saw combat in Vietnam, arranged to have porta-pottys follow the mixed crowd walking down the road. Others drove cars with water, their lights flashing in case drivers on Highway 86 didn’t see the crowd of forty carrying flags of their branch of service, or the American flags flying free in the slight breeze.

Upon arriving at the Legion Hall in Brawley, the BUHS band was there to meet them, as were another 40 people, supporting the men and women who once fought to support the American way.

Band leader Amy Daily was ready with songs of each branch and as all gathered around to listen to the patriotic music, branches of the service were called out and on cue, the band played Anchors Away, The Caisson Song, among others, and ended in tribute to all of them with the score from The Magnificent Seven.

Mariscal spoke to the crowd, and to the office workers that had stepped outside of doors to see the spectacle, “This is the community supporting the veterans, walking alongside us, being there for us. We will do this next Veteran’s Day, and the next.”

Mariscal later spoke about the mess at the Veterans Administration with the hospitals, “I’m glad they have someone going in and firing those that did not uphold their end. We need to all be accountable, and they were not.”

Mariscal added that he was pleased to see the largest class of veterans entering office nationally. “We are leaders and self-sacrificing. We don’t go into office to see what we can get out of it, we go in for the people.”