While the Fourth of July may prompt many to think of barbecues, fireworks, and extended weekends, for veterans it represents freedom from tyranny and serves as a sobering reminder that such freedom did not come without sacrifice.
“If I hear Taps, I actually have tears come from my eyes, and I hold my head down,” says Construction Inspector Pat De Los Santos, “and when the Star-Spangled Banner comes on, I put my hand over my heart.”
A former Marine, De Los Santos is one of four veterans employed by Aguirre & Fields. Sharing that distinction are Construction Inspector and former soldier Chris Renfro, TxDOT CEI Communities Lead and former soldier Michael Steward, P.E., and Graduate Engineer and former soldier Michael Clayborne, EI.
While this year’s holiday may mark 245 years since the United States declared its independence from England during the Revolutionary War, our veterans view the inaugural Fourth of July as the ignition of a flame, more than the end of an era.
“Independence Day reminds me of how long we’ve been doing this– since the American Revolution, and we’re still doing it,” says De Los Santos. “We still hold true to our beliefs that we stand united as we continue to fight under one flag.”
“Independence Day represents what it means to be free, to be an American,” adds Steward. “It is the unequivocal denial and rejection of tyranny and oppression.”
Aguirre & Fields veterans know that the preservation of our nation and the ideals it aspires towards is a long, winding road, built upon the blood, sweat, tears, and dedication of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our way of life.
“It is a day of reflection and rejoice for the birth of a great nation,” says Renfro. “It is also a day that we must be thankful for the hard times our nation has endured and all the bloodshed it took to get to where we are now.”
“I think of everybody who came before me in the service and everybody who’s going to come after me, what they’ve had to sacrifice, and what they will have to continue to sacrifice, for essentially the freedom that we enjoy,” adds Clayborne.
Serving in the military has had a profound effect on our veterans, who see their employment at Aguirre & Fields as an opportunity to continue carrying out the values instilled upon them during their service.
“In the military we were loyal, and I see that same value here at Aguirre & Fields,” says De Los Santos. “Whether that’s seeing a project through to its completion or standing by their people when times are tough. It’s also a value that’s contagious: I know that as long as I have a job going, I’m going to take care of that job before I move on to what’s next.”
“Serving taught me what it meant to work as a team,” adds Clayborne. “I learned that a team is strongest when it works together and remains focused on achieving its goal. I see those parallels working here, because we all support each other daily to be successful company-wide.”
“Much like we have the Guiding Principles that we live by here at Aguirre & Fields, the Army has the acronym LDRSHIP, which stands for Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage,” says Renfro. “If you compare the meanings of each, you will see many values are the same. For example, when I was a soldier, we had to learn to work as a team and support each other, even through the hardest of times. I have seen this in Aguirre & Fields since I began working here as the pandemic was getting underway. We have all supported and helped each other to be successful in achieving our goals.”
“When I was in the Army, integrity was one of the core values, and they defined it as doing the right thing when no one is looking,” adds Steward. “At Aguirre & Fields, we know our reputation is our brand, and that reputation depends upon the integrity we demonstrate in our everyday approach, our work, and how we serve our communities.”