From Richard Pimentel. Veteran, speaker and a leading advocate and inspiration behind the Americans with Disabilities Act. An amazing man and subject of the 2007 movie “Music Within”. Well worth seeing. 

On Veterans Day I am told that I can get a free donut and coffee at Krispy Cream, a free dinner at Golden Corral and more trouble from my wife Debbie than I can possibly imagine by having free wings at Hooters.

Just think, all this because I am a veteran. I served in Vietnam in 68-69 with the 101st airborne division. This was during the Tet offensive.

I returned home functionally deaf. (I read lips) and wear hearing aids. Suffered a traumatic brain injury and was poisoned by Agent Orange.

The price I paid and still am paying by serving pales, compared to the reason that I choose to serve.

Starting in kindergarten I can remember standing up with my hand over my heart for the pledge of Allegiance.

How many times have you in your life said it? Hundreds? Thousands? More?

We thank veterans for defending our country. Our freedoms and our way of life. To me the United States is not the soil under our feet it is an ideal, a system of beliefs and values. A country founded on three primary values and ideas worth living for and for some worth dying for.

Consider the pledge

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands. One nation under God indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I have seen old newsreels of the recruiting offices filled with thousands the day after Pearl Harbor. I volunteered for the draft rather than to wait hoping I would be overlooked. I still vividly remember the long lines of young people joining up after 911.

I didn’t serve because I believed our soil was sacred and worth risking my life for. I served because I believed the three great values of the republic were worth dying for. God, Liberty and Justice.

I was not just a soldier once. I am a soldier today.

You and I are in the church of our choosing because of these values. My children have the liberty to pursue their goals in the way they wish because of these values.

The shield of America’s justice seeks to protect every one of us from those who would deny justice to us because of their hatred, fears, prejudices and selfish ambitions.

I served to protect these three ideals. God saw fit to let me come home with a disability to continue to fight for and defend these ideas.

Vietnam was a war of death. Over 58,000 dead you can read their names in the wall. Over four times that many have already died of Agent Orange with an estimated 200,000 more to go.

The Agent Orange names are not on any wall. Their names are engraved in your  hearts. They are your fathers, grandfathers, husbands, brothers, uncles and friends. Someday my name will be added to that list.

This current war is a war of disabilities. We are not sending them to Arlington we are sending them home to hospitals, rehab centers to their families and to us their communities of worship.

For those of you vets who served you know the war is not over just because you’re not still over there.

God, liberty, justice are still under attack from both enemies foreign and sadly domestic as well.

For those of you who never officially served I would like to recruit you today. Fight for the concept of freedom of religion for all. . Defend liberty of all and defend the right of everyone to justice.

Do this and I’ll buy you a donut and a coffee at Krispy Creme.

And by the way thank you for your service and your sacrifice for me and my family.

On a personal note: as I and my cane wobble back to my seat you might wonder if I think my sacrifice was worth it.

The answer is yes.

Best investment I ever made.

Richard Pimentel


For more information on Dr. Pimentel and his story go to

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