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When the ordinary become extraordinary


Is war inevitable?

So far, in human history, the answer is yes.

Almost always, the people who die in war are not the ones who decided to go to war.

While political leaders make their decisions, it is left to the ordinary people, almost always the younger people to carry out the work of war.

One such young, ordinary person was Antonio Rey “Rod” Rodriguez.

A Las Cruces native, Rodriguez from a young age wanted to be a soldier. And that is what he became. And by all accounts, he became a damned good one.

An Army Ranger, Rodriguez and his colleagues accomplished missions others could not or would not do. They left the ordinary and became extraordinary.

But constantly living in the wake of danger stacks the odds.

And on Feb. 8, 2020, in Afghanistan, Rodriguez was fatally wounded.

Memorial Day is the day we set aside to honor and remember those Americans, such as Rodriguez, who died in war.

Rodriguez is the most recent of the 204 Doña Ana County residents who died in combat in the wars since World War I.

An event recognizing those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their nation will take place Monday night, May 29, at Veterans Memorial Park.

The 10th annual candlelight ceremony is a solemn event where candles are lit for each of the fallen. It begins at 8 p.m. Monday, May 29, which is the day officially set aside for Memorial Day.

Last weekend, Rodriguez was honored with another remembrance.

The conjunction of Interstates 10 and 25 in south Las Cruces was officially named by the New Mexico Department of Transportation the “SFC Antonio Rey ‘Rod’ Rodriguez Memorial Interchange.”

Another way you can remember Rodriguez is by visiting arrfoundation.org, learning more about “Rod,” and perhaps donating to the foundation’s scholarship fund.

The frontage road along U.S. Hwy. 70 in east Las Cruces is named Bataan Memorial, honoring the atrocities of April 1942, when the Japanese marched about 72,000 prisoners through a hellish nightmare in the steaming Philippine jungle. About 12,000 of those were Americans (the rest were mostly Filipino) and of those 12,000, more than 1,800 were New Mexicans.

With White Sands Missile Range in our backyard, Holloman Air Force base just to our east, and Fort Bliss to our south, it is clear the impact the military has had on our community in its history.

WSMR recently re-opened its museum, and this weekend might be a good one to go see it.

I realize it is also a good weekend to relax with friends and family, have a cookout and play some games.

You should do all of that. But you should also take some time out to remember the point of Memorial Day, and make a personal recognition.