GILES COUNTY, Va. – Millions of Americans are voting for the first time in this election, including a Giles County man whose vote this year is just the most recent way he’s serving his country.
When Victor Campos came to the United States from Mexico as a child, he made a commitment to service.
“My parents, my grandparents wanted a better life for us,” Campos said. “And I never forget those words. I raise my hand, I said, ‘I will defend the flag of the United States.’”
Campos enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1976. Two decades later, he sought to continue that service by joining the National Guard but there was just one problem.
“They would not take me because I was not a citizen,” Campos said. “I said, ‘I don’t want to apply. I don’t want to pay the $70 to become a citizen!’”
But he did. Naturalization took Campos two years and he said it was worth it.
Clearing that hurdle sent him to Iraq, fighting alongside his daughter Marley. But even after returning, there was still something missing. The man who worked to become a citizen so he could defend his country so bravely had never exercised one of his fundamental rights until now.
“It’s so funny but this is my first year that I went out there and voted because of all the things going on right now,” Campos said.
Campos didn’t say who he voted for but he did say how it felt.
“I was very proud. It had been a long journey,” Campos said.
Asking Campos why it was a long journey and why he decided to vote now took him back to his earliest years living in the U.S.
“They discriminated me because I was brown but I didn’t let that affect me. I don’t hate nobody. I might not like some people but I don’t hate them because we love everybody,” Campos said.
That message carried him through years on the battlefield and ultimately led him to the ballot box.
“Hopefully my voice will carry on and will be counted,” Campos said.