Rodriguez was recently named the parade marshal at this year’s Diez y Seis celebration. This year’s parade theme is “In Honor of Our Veterans.”
Fred Morón, who is helping coordinate the weekend’s celebration, said, “We are honoring the veterans from all of the armed forces that have served our country over the years.”
Rodriguez was chosen as for the honor because of his dedication to those soldiers.
“He also one of the most outstanding veterans in Bee County,” he said.
Rodriguez, who also serves as a county commissioner, is a decorated Vietnam veteran who served in the Marine Corps from 1966 to 1969.
He served a tour in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969.
“He supports without boundaries the veterans from all wars and branches of the military,” Morón said.
Rodriguez humbly points out that he is not alone in his dedication to helping the veterans.
“There are other people in town who have done a lot for veterans: Armando Musquez, Joe Richard Rodriguez, Richard Rodriguez, Frank Gonzales, Bernie Henke and Becky G. Ochoa,” he said.
“I feel I am representing all the veterans.”
Rodriguez never seeks the limelight for himself, always pointing to the work others have done for veterans.
“You don’t do it to get any attention,” he said. “I just do it without expecting anything.”
He was still honored to be recognized.
“It is good to know people appreciate all the work being done for the veterans,” he said.
The question many, especially those who never served in a the military, might ask is what ties this seemingly eclectic group of individuals so closely together.
“I think it is a fraternity that we all were in the military. We all went to boot camp,” he said.
“I think we feel like we are — not that we are special — but we have a certain identity and can identify with each other.”
Rodriguez himself knows the sacrifices made by so many of the servicemen but also the accolades that come with that dedication to serving one’s country.
Rodriguez was awarded the National Defense Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Presidential Unit Citation and Combat Action Ribbon.
Rodriguez, a member of American Legion Post 274, said that the people enlisting today are giving up the prime years of their lives to keep this country free.
“These young men and women gave up three, four or six years of their lives to defend their country,” he said.
“That, to me, means something.
“That is probably why we help each other.”
It is this appreciation to the veterans that prompted this year’s parade theme.
The floats will travel through downtown Beeville starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
The festivities, which actually began this past weekend with the Diez y Seis de Septiembre Cultural Queens Pageant, will continue with a mariachi performance this Friday evening at the Expo Center.
Mariachi Los Soberanos from San Antonio will take the stage under the pavilion starting at 7:30 p.m.
The events continue early Saturday with the H-E-B/Dave Moore Ford Mas o Menos 5K Walk/ Run downtown. About 300 runners and walkers will line up for the race’s start at 8 a.m.
The men’s 40 and older softball tournament also will be going on at the same time but at Veterans Memorial Park.
At 2 p.m., the disc golf tournament begins at Veterans Memorial Park.
Grupo Intimo will perform at the pavilion at the Expo Center starting at 3 p.m., followed by Indomable at 5 p.m.
Tamale eating and jalapeno eating contests will be held throughout the afternoon. The evening entertainment will feature Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers and Jaime y Los Chamacos.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.