CALEXICO — His voice choked by emotion, retired Army Lt. Col. Carl Vindiola told the students of Calexico High School, "Respect the sacrifices that veterans have made for your country" — he paused — "because it's hard … to leave your family … to go off to fight. … I know it's hard."
Vindiola, a Vietnam veteran, addressed students at a Veterans Day memorial ceremony at Calexico High on Thursday morning.
Before the emotional coda of his address, the Calexico High band played "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Taps."
Vindiola said, "Those two songs represent our country. Keep those songs in your heart because that's the heart of America."
He told the students to "be proud to be American and a Bulldog but even more, be proud to be an American."
After his address, the other veterans on Calexico High's gymnasium stage and the assembled student body applauded.
Calexico Police Chief Tommy Tunson, an Army reserve lieutenant who served in the Gulf War, recognized each of the veterans on the stage and acknowledged those who had won a Silver Star or Bronze Star.