The road of remembrance
There’s a street in Socorro that — like for whom it’s named, is a little bit beat up — is often taken for granted and, though it’s right in the heart of town, you probably don’t know it’s name.
It’s called Veterans Way. And, if I’m not mistaken, it’s the shortest street in all of Socorro. I paced it off at 75 feet.
Veterans Way is virtually anonymous. There’s a street sign there that identifies the road, but you probably look past it, just like you might look past the veterans you see walking the streets, the aisles of the grocery stores or going through the paces on the job.
You won’t find it on a map, either. No reason to bother. Nobody lives there. There’s not an address for anything on Veterans Way. But like the heroic men and women who serve our country in the military, it’s there for you when you need it.
The street I’m talking about connects Center and Court streets, just a few strides south of the Plaza.
You know the one I’m mean. It runs right between where there’s a historical marker identifying the Jumbo bomb fragment — part of a casing used to contain the explosion during testing of the first nuclear device — and the artillery cannon that sits at the north end of the median by Isidro Baca Park.
The park, by the way, is named for the first Socorroan to die for his country during the Vietnam War.
Not a lot of people drive down Veterans Way. It’s only put to use when it’s the best option.
When you’re traveling north on Center, a one-way road from the courthouse to the Plaza, and you want to head back the other way, south on Court, you take Veterans Way. Otherwise, you’ve got to go all the way around the Plaza. And after all the time it takes you to make the oval, you’re pretty much back where you were. But you can count on Veterans Way to get you headed back in the right direction without delay.
Although the City of Socorro has done a nice job of sprucing up the island on which the Jumbo chunk is displayed, and the City and County of Socorro are allying forces to make Isidro Baca Park something to be proud of, Veterans Way shows wear and tear. It’s scarred with a rut that runs most of its length. There are a couple of pockmarks that could easily pass as potholes. Right now, fallen leaves fill its gutters. It may not be the prettiest of streets, but it does its duty.
Veterans Way is a street of distinction. It’s unique in that it’s the only road I know of that has an additional adornment atop its street sign. In place of a sign identifying a cross street, there’s a sign decorated with a pair of flag decals on each side. Although badly bent and crippled, like some of our veterans were when they came home, the sign bearing the flag of the United States still stands proudly.
It’s worth noting that there’s a stop sign at the end of Veterans Way, which causes anyone traveling the short stretch to take pause.
Veterans Day is coming up on Wednesday, Nov. 11. The local chapter of Disabled American Veterans is staging a ceremony at Isidro Baca Park to honor our country’s war veterans at 11 a.m. It’s a good time for all of us to stop and take pause to consider the road our veterans traveled down to preserve our inalienable rights.
Like Veterans Way itself many of them are crippled or wounded, too often unappreciated or taken for granted and remain unrecognized or anonymous to us as we go about our lives.
Unlike Veterans Way, freedom is not a one-way street. On Veterans Day, or any day, we should all stop to remember those who showed us the way.
T.S. Last is general manager of El Defensor Chieftain.