Yuba College is not devoid of warriors, specifically veterans. Both November 8th and 10th saw the same theme being presented in room 724 at 12 noon as part of Yuba College’s Crossing Borders, Building Bridges series. This was a two part presentation intended to honor the veterans who fought for the United States and give people an idea of just who these veterans are, what they went through and in some cases what they are still going through. While Veterans Day is November 11 Crossing Borders, Building Bridges wanted to draw attention to veterans before the appointed day to help give them some of the recognition they deserve.
Several veteran speakers addressed the audiences of room 724 in the two days of the presentation. Some were elderly Vietnam veterans and some were young veterans of the war in Iraq. Regardless of their age or what war they fought in they all represented the soldiers who served so that Americans could enjoy what they have today.Though separated by years in age and very different wars fought for very different Americas they all spoke of common ideas and experiences.
On the first day of the commemoration Ray Bull a veteran of the Vietnam war spoke to a small audience. He told them how he was born and raised in Yuba County, and attended Yuba College when the Vietnam war was starting. After Bull admittedly goofed off for two semesters he was put on academic probation and drafted. Bull joined the army and served with the 101st Airborne division in Vietnam. Bull remarked that he was naive and wanted to see combat stating that he got his wish. Bull talked about his experiences in the war including how he was wounded by a mortar shell and how he killed 11 Vietnamese soldiers with a claymore mine. Bull said of his time in Vietnam “we did some hard fighting” and “I was scared to death”. Bull was so sick of fighting that he chose to spend his last months of service as a librarian in a military library. When he got out of the Army, Bull went back to Yuba College and loved it, though he had a bad experience when he made a pro-war statement during a protest on campus. Towards the end of the presentation Bull took questions from the audience, answering a question about war movies war movies by saying that Charlie Sheen’s “Platoon” is “bogus”.
Marvin King, a Vietnam vet who served in the air-force remarked that compared to Ray Bull his service was, “a whole lot easier”. However that did not stop him from having a lot to say on the military and its soldiers. “I just shake my head” King said, speaking about how the media portrays the armed forces. King also spoke of the many issues vets face such as being disabled, PT-SD, and mental health issues. One important point King made was that Vietnam vets did not receive the welcome “that they should have”. King pointed out how the returning vets received very harsh treatment and some vets even hid from civilization as a result of this. To make his point clear and to really get at the heart of why veterans are so important, King said “our freedoms are founded on somebody standing up and telling a tyrant no”. “I would not go back and change anything”.
The second day of presentations saw two Iraq veterans, who are also Yuba College students, tell their stories along with another Vietnam veteran. Again a sense of kindred understanding could be felt between the speakers. There was a sense of comradely between the war veterans that was also felt on the first day between Bull and King.
The first speaker a young Iraq veteran, spoke alot about his experience and why he did what he did but one thing he said summed it all up with one sentence. He said “I love my country and I love my soldiers, I’d do it all over again”.
A common theme (between the two presentations) was the lack of appreciation that soldiers receive. The following speaker was Mike Nichols, a Vietnam veteran who explained that returning soldiers were (to use his own words) “spit upon”.The unfair treatment of returning service members seemed to be a reoccurring topic that was touched on by a majority of the speakers.
In the military Nichols said “you’re all a family” and many vets find this is absolutely not the case when returning to civilian life. Nichols spoke to the relevance of veteran issues by saying that there are 40,000 veterans in the Yuba and Sutter counties alone. When asked what the community can do to help veterans Nichols said “just care”.
The last speaker was Chris Rivera, another Yuba College student who is also an Iraq veteran. Rivera said how he saw “close friends get blown up” and explained how he was once under fire but still managed to bravely fight the enemy and help his fellow soldiers. The harshness of military experience was something all the veteran speakers knew well.
After the speakers finished, several members of the audience thanked them for their service. Its seemed as if those in attendance had been moved by the idea behind all the words they had heard. That idea, and that of the two day presentation, was that the veterans of America have given so much for us that we should at least care about them enough to honor them on the holiday set aside for them.