Local veteran, Sycamore realtor writes children’s book about patriotism
SYCAMORE – Local real estate agent and Sycamore resident Travis Velazquez said he is still coping with the loss of his friends who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who died in combat.
The Army and Air Force Reserves veteran wanted to do something to honor his friends and also educate people on why it’s important to understand what veterans experience day to day.
So Velazquez, also a Sterling native and a current realtor at Elm Street Realtors, decided to write the children’s book “Protected by the Best.” He said he wrote the book in two days, and it took six months to get it together with pictures by illustrator Suzanne Shedosky, who is also Velazquez’s former neighbor.
“As I started writing and as it came along more and more, it became more of a theraputic way for me to release some of my emotions,” Velazquez said.
The book is a story about a young boy named Travis, who was named after Velazquez’s son, which writes a letter to soldiers after seeing people dying in combat on TV. Travis and his father come across protesting, homeless veterans and people stepping on the U.S. flag as they walk to drop off the letter.
Velazquez said the journey teaches Travis how to handle these and other circumstances he encounters now and may encounter in the future. So far, the book has sold about 250 copies across the country since it was made available for purchase on Wednesday, he said.
The paperback book is available for purchase on Amazon, Velazquez said. He said he’s also working on having the book sold locally as well.
Velazquez said he hopes the book instills patriotism into today’s youth, which he said he feels is slowly going to the wayside. But he said he didn’t have any specific political motives in writing the book.
“The point of the book is not to make you a Democrat or Republican, or anti-Trump or for Trump,” Velazquez said. “It’s just a way for people to realize that we are the ‘Land of the Free’ because somebody had to pay the ultimate price for that.”
Velazquez said illustrator Shedosky, who also used to babysit him when he was a kid, was more than happy to help with the book when she was asked because she had multiple family members that have served in the military, including her brother.
At the end of the book, there is a list of names and photos of Velazquez’s own friends that lost their lives in combat. The book is also 22 pages by design to honor the 22 veterans that die by suicide every day, Velazquez said.
“We don’t want to forget about them,” Velazquez said.