As the sun set over the dusty Kabul sky in Afghanistan, the red, white and blue symbol of freedom flew above the U.S. forward operating base. In time-honored military fashion, Lt. Cmdr. Luis A. Nuñez Jr., U.S. Navy Reserves, saluted as the color guard started down the flag, knowing its ultimate destination would be Southwestern College.
Nuñez, program director of the medical laboratory technician program at the National City Higher Education Center (HEC), said it was significant to him that he chose the flag. He said he wanted to bring home a symbol of his yearlong duty in war-torn Afghanistan where he and his comrades established clinical laboratories.
“I chose a flag for the National City Center because the closeness I feel with my team at the college is as strong as the team I served with in Afghanistan,” he said. “It was my way of letting them know that while I was away, they were there with me.”
As Southwestern celebrated its own time-honored Veteran’s Day ceremonies, Nuñez presented his gift to Superintendent Dr. Melinda Nish.
“Receiving a flag from the field is a true honor,” she said. “It is a special symbol of recognition from Lt. Cmdr. Nuñez to all of us at Southwestern. This flag will forever be a symbol of all the contributions of veterans, past and present. On behalf of the entire Southwestern College community, I thank Luis Nuñez for this honor.”
In a smaller but emotional ceremony, Nuñez, along with Nish, brought the flag to its final destination.
Christine Perri, National City HEC dean, said the first thing that comes to her mind when she looks at the flag is that it is a privilege having Nuñez working there.
“Nuñez represents all the things filled with goodness and kindness in the world,” she said. “Through his willingness to protect our liberties and freedom here, I am grateful he is home safely.”
In traditional shadowbox fashion the red, white and blue adorns the National City HEC. A reminder that many past, present and future veterans not only serve the nation, but serve the Southwestern College community with as much honor.