OPINION: Everyone needs a mask

OPINION: Everyone needs a mask

By David Gomez Jr.

Published Monday, Oct. 12, 2020

TAMIU’s own “Forrest Gump” often sits outside alone, despite Laredo’s grueling summer heat. This particular summer, he wasn’t even protecting himself with a mask through the novel coronavirus pandemic.

David Gomez Jr.

Back on Aug. 3, 2017, no one would have guessed the statue of J. O. Walker, sitting on a bench on the northeast side of the Fine and Performing Arts Center at Texas A&M International University, would ever walk of his own free will to the bookstore, grab a mask, put it on and without any discomfort around his ears. The poor guy sits out in all weather conditions—the least TAMIU could do is supply him with a complementary mask, a cloth one at that.

Were the statue actually modeled after film character Forrest Gump, its pose could include the hands left slightly open with just enough room to hold a box of chocolates. If so, TAMIU graduating students would make offerings of Whitman’s to the great Gump for having barely passed with a 2.0 GPA. Then again, Hershey’s might get word and threaten to sue if they were not included in the offerings.

Leonard Gonzalez | Bridge
The statue of J.O. Walker wears a mask on Sept. 5.

Apparently, University officials decided it would be best to not offer any real boxes of chocolate to avoid liability for any canine deaths on campus. It’s just that one pug who believes it’s a javelina, but it might just be newsworthy if word got out.

It is unusual that no faculty, staff member or student has ever read what Walker jotted down on in its statuesque journal during the past three years. It reads, “I have seen many students these days with colored hair: blue, blonde, green, and sometimes pink. Nevertheless, I miss them since this pandemic began back in March. I miss them all. It will be A-O-K when they all return.”

The Walker statue sits on its lonesome more than ever nowadays. With a mask on at that. Seriously, there is no one around it and it wears a mask, but it is following University policy.

Leonard Gonzalez | Bridge
The statue of J.O. Walker wears a mask on Sept. 5.

The next time you see the statue of Walker, sit beside it, maybe snap a selfie, and let him know he’s at least not some bust inside the fine arts building critiquing students’ art projects. It, too, wears a mask.

On a serious note, the Walker family donated the statue of their patriarch, the late J.O. Walker Jr., to TAMIU back in August 2017. He was a local rancher and a local businessman.

Walker’s grandson told KGNS back in 2017 that if a student were to sit next to J.O. on the bench, he would say “A-O-K” as in A for ambition, O for opportunity and K for urging them to keep on.

Laredo-born artist Robert Garcia Jr. created the statue.


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