ORLANDO, Fla. – Serving the community is so important to one Orlando firefighter paramedic and Navy reservist, he volunteered at a local COVID-19 testing site the day before being deployed.
Miguel Acevedo has been serving the country for a total of 27 years between the Navy and Army.
“It’s an honor to serve my country,” Acevedo said. “I’ve always wanted to be in the military since I was a kid, and my mother cultivated that and made sure that ‘If that was your dream, go for it.’”
He's also been serving the City Beautiful as a firefighter paramedic for 18 years.
“I love my job. It’s the best job that I could have been fortunate enough to get here,” Acevedo said. “I feel lucky to be an Orlando firefighter.”
It’s a job that can come with a lot of rough days, like experiencing the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center as a member of FDNY.
"To this day, if I see something, the World Trade Center or something like that, it kind of affects me," he said.
But Acevedo also worked the Pulse nightclub shooting, where 49 members of our community were tragically killed.
“I was on a rescue truck, which is basically an ambulance,” Acevedo said. “And my job, I transported two of the three people to the hospital. It was pretty horrific in the fact that, I mean, I’ve been through Sept. 11, but this is totally different. This is just one sick individual who decided to terrorize our city. But I guess it helped me grow as an individual and appreciate life for what it is.”
Lately -- he's been serving a specific community, doing his part and helping out at the COVID-19 testing site at Lake Nona Middle School.
"I'm an Orlando city resident also as well as working here, and I feel like it's the same thing just working for my country as well as my community," said Acevedo. "And it just makes me feel like I'm a productive citizen of our great nation and our great city here in Orlando."
He even volunteered the day before he shipped out for at least a nine-month-long deployment at Guantanamo Bay. Acevedo said it was important to him to help out his neighbors before he left.
"Sometimes you have to look past yourself and for the good of people and do something," he said.
Acevedo also encourages young people who want to make a difference to stay out of trouble and follow their hearts.
"Do not get in trouble with the law and have great grades in school," he said. "Follow your dream and go for it. And don't let anyone hold you up, even your own parents. Unfortunately, sometimes your parents are overprotective and are like, 'Oh, don't join the military.' But you got to do what you think is best for you."
And in the end, he said what matters most is treating others with love and respect.
“We really need to respect each other regardless of race or religion or ethnic background,” Acevedo said. “It should be mutual respect for everyone. And you don’t know who your hero is. That person you may be talking to might have an interesting story and may be a hero. I think if you treat everybody as a hero, I think it helps with the mutual respect.”