Master Sgt. Joseph Wynne Velasquez served his country in the U. S. Army for more than 20 years. He deployed once to Macedonia, twice to Iraq, and then to Afghanistan. He has six children, a grandson, and a wife of 19 years.
Between him and his brother Phillip James Velasquez, Jr., their mother Wilma Maria endured a son in a combat zone for nearly eight long years, keeping a yellow ribbon tied in the front yard of the trailer she shares with her husband and the boys’ father Phillip James, a San Felipe Pueblo Indian who served 20 years himself, including three tours in Vietnam.
Three weeks ago Friday, Joseph was struck and killed in a hit and run walking home on a scenic country road north of Ft. Benning, where he oversaw courses for the Military Adviser Training Program — a new program, his brother boasts, for which Joseph “technically wrote the book.”
Over the past two weeks, politicians have broken their own rules to join the millions grieving, protesting, and sometimes later rioting in the streets, remembering George Floyd, a man allegedly murdered by a police officer. Elsewhere in America, a family is barred from gathering at the Santa Fe National Cemetery to lay their son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather to rest with the honors he earned, deserves, and was promised by his country.