CALIPATRIA, Calif. (KYMA, KECY)-After serving two decades in the armed forces, Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Antonio Lopez never forgot his roots in the Imperial Valley.
"Being here in Calipatria allowed me to kind of see the American Dream. My dad, being an immigrant of Mexico. So being able to serve my country, it's the pinnacle of what I've done overall."
On Thursday, his hometown welcomed him in a ceremony held at his alma mater for his valor and sacrifice.
Calipatria High School Principal, Joe Derma who taught Lopez when he was a student said, "I think that's the ultimate goal as an educator. To see your student succeed. To find success in something they love. And to be proud of a job they do on a daily basis."
Calipatria High School student Anelise Amezcua, aspires to follow in Lopez's example and hopes to also serve her country.
"How much respect they're given. And just the opportunities they're given to because they have so much more opportunities for travel and education. It just seems like the right path."
Lopez thanked the community with a presentation from the Marine Corps Color Detachment and hopes to motivate the younger generation that anything is possible.
Lopez added, " To be able to leave your hometown and be able to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States, I think this is something that every American has the opportunity to dream about. And fulfilling it from a small place like Calipatria, I think it sends a bigger message to everybody here in the Imperial Valley."