Happy Veterans Day to all who have served and are actively serving in the U.S. Military. This is a picture of my dad, Conrado Mendoza, who served in the U.S. Navy for 9 years. My dad had big dreams when he came to the United States in the mid-1960s (he still does), and the Navy allowed him to pursue them in what he considered the land of opportunity. My dad sells anything and everything, and he would peddle fish to the Filipino Navy wives when he finished his shift. He and my mom eventually opened a grocery store, which was in business from 1974-1998. A pretty long run. My mom tells the story of how she tried to talk my dad into staying in the Navy so we could all have health insurance and a steady paycheck.
Although my dad didn’t stay in the Navy and retire like so many other Filipino veterans in the Hampton Roads area, he is proud of his service to our country and knows that many things would not be possible had it not been for the Navy. Most importantly, his service in the Navy allowed him to become a U.S. Citizen. Once a Citizen, he was able to petition for my grandmother, who was then able to petition for my dad’s brothers and sisters. Trust me when I say that everyone’s lives were greatly improved thanks to my dad’s decision to join the Navy, starting with a hot shower every morning.
So, thanks to Veterans like my dad, who took a brave step in joining the military, many times not knowing what would be in store, and providing his family a better future in the process.