Somewhere inside the country’s largest Veterans Day Parade, a U.S. Army veteran paid tribute to his older brother.
José Solorio wasn’t on the grandstands where former Miss Fresno County Valerie Salcedo flawlessly performed a couple of patriotic songs.
The Stockton native didn’t get to rub elbows with grand marshal Retired Lt. Col. Larry Duba, who served in the Air Force Reserve.
Nor did Solorio ride in a classic car, motorcycle or horseback along the parade route in downtown Fresno like others did.
Instead, the 71-year-old Solorio walked on the sidewalk with a portrait of Pascual Solorio hung around his neck.
It was one brother’s tribute to an older brother who returned from war in Korea and Vietnam not quite the same.
“He was 17 years old when he went in; he lied about his age in 1946,” said Solorio about his brother who was wounded twice in Korea and once more in Vietnam.
He was given a Silver Star for convincing two of 10 soldiers who were hiding from the Chinese troops to not give up despite being surrounded.
“He threatened to kill them,” said Solorio of his brother’s convincing. Pascual Solorio, though wounded, eventually got his men to safety.
“I’m very proud of my brother, Sgt. Pascual Solorio,” he said, pointing to a photograph of a military uniform-clad brother when he was 19 years old.
Solorio said there were no support services for soldiers who returned from the horrors of war back then.
Pascual, the oldest son among 10 children born to farmworkers, came back changed, said Joe Solorio. His brother would often end up in bars hurling imaginary grenades at ghost enemy combatants.
Other times, he would drink heavily.
“I love my brother,” said Joe Solorio.
During the brief pre-parade ceremony, Congressman Jim Costa, D-Fresno, said military families should also be recognized.
“Those families sacrifice as well,” said Costa. “Let’s remember the men and women serving today, in harm’s way.”
Costa threw out some statistics:
▪ 404 World War II veterans die every day.
▪ 1.9 million women serve in the military.
▪ 1.5 Latinos serve in the military.
▪ 20 military veterans commit suicide daily.
▪ 2.5 million veterans are small business owners.
“This is a snapshot of veterans today,” said Costa. “They’ve earned those veterans’ benefits. A grateful nation can never say ‘Thank you’ enough.”
Costa said there are still too many veterans who are homeless.