Veteran relates story of his long walk home
On a Friday 49 years ago, July 2, 1965, I was honorably discharged from the United States Navy.
My actual discharge date was July 4, 1965, but that was on a Sunday. Rather than hold me over until Monday, I was released Friday.
When I arrived home in Victoria at the bus station on the corner of Rio Grande and Navarro streets, where I had left for the Navy four years earlier, there was no one there to greet me. No old girlfriend, no welcome home.
Actually, I didn't tell anyone I was coming home. It was a tough decision to leave the Navy. I had been "overseas" for three years. There was also a lot of uncertainty as to whether I would even be able to be discharged because of the escalation of personnel being sent to Vietnam since April 1965.
I did receive a lot of jeers, cat-calls, derogatory remarks and such from a lot of "kids" - high school and college aged - and others as I walked down the streets of Victoria wearing my summer white tropical Navy uniform in Victoria, Texas, my home town, the place where I was born and raised.
It was a long walk home from the bus station to Sears, where I surprised my mother while she was there at work in the furniture department. I entered Sears through a back door at the service department and quietly stood in the back of the furniture department, signaling to other employees in the store who saw and knew me not to alert my mother as to my presence. It took a while for my mother to turn around and see me standing there. The surprise was complete. She could hardly believe I was there. Later, my dad was equally surprised when he came home from work at the Navy Chase Field in Beeville.
Later, he drove me to the bus station to pick up my seabag.
Yes, it was a long walk home from Sears - east on Rio Grande Street/Houston Highway to Ben Jordan Street, then North on Ben Jordan Street, past Victoria College and on to my parents' home on 2101 E. Anaqua St.
Yes, there was not much respect shown for our uniforms and service we had given to our country. No "We appreciate your service," no "Welcome home," no yellow ribbons, no parades for veterans. This was the Vietnam era.
A lot has changed with our country over the last 49 years. It is oftentimes difficult to observe what the leadership of our country is doing to destroy our country rather than build it up. Now, we need to rebuild this United States of America into the beautiful, powerful and respected country it used to be - the country we veterans raised our right hands and swore an oath "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic and to yield up our lives, if need be."
A parallel can be drawn from ancient civilizations to our country - the United States of America - in that history repeats itself. Even as Rome once was, we now are. Yes, even in the rise and fall of the Roman Empire.
I hope we all gave thanks to our God, whatever faith we may be, on this fourth day of July in the year 2014 for our country, the United States of America, and all the freedoms we still have. All those things that men and women who serve this country in the uniforms of our military - Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard - and our veterans who have served.
May this nation continue to be "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
God, please bless America.
Carl Ivan Dobsky is a Victoria native and a veteran of the United States Navy. He helped organize and was the first president of the Victori-A's, a Model A Ford Club of America chapter in Victoria. He currently lives in Fredericksburg.