disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with political agendas, or points of view in favor of or against any current issues in the media. It is my point of view and as such, do not lose track of the main focus of the article, which is honoring ALL our men and women who served , serve or sacrificed their lives in defense of our freedom.
"The saddest loss to the families of those fallen in battle, is if the world forgets their sacrifice.."
Ordinarywmn May 2010
Memorial Day May 31
Today, as I usually do on Memorial day, I stop to reflect on the lives lost to defend the freedom we so many times take for granted in our country.
I thought of those I knew, like PFC John F Landry Jr., 20 years old, who was a schoolmate of my children at Lowell Catholic High school, and was killed in action in March of 2007, and I wonder about all those I did not know.
A while ago I was doing an internet search on one of my son's, as he was preparing to apply for a new job and did not want any weird pictures of him popping up!
While I was doing this search I came across a young man from Sun Valley California. I did not know this young man and the only reason he popped up was because he had the same last name as my son and he had served in the military.
The difference was my son was home, this young man did not make it back.
It has been a couple of years since I found this young man on-line and I have never forgotten him.
Are my boys related to him somehow? Maybe, maybe not, but the day I found out he died for my freedom, he became another brother, another son and another comrade in arms, and mostly my hero.
I now felt compelled to write about him, in hopes that others do not forget Felix either.
Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta was only 25 years old when he died on May 3rd, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq.
Sgt. Gonzales-Iraheta died from wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire.
Sgt. Gonzales-Iraheta was married with two small daughters, he had a mother, who loved him deeply, and when his father had a stroke, Felix stepped up to help the family financially.
Sgt. Gonzales-Iraheta, when he was only eleven years old was responsible for rescuing his younger brother, Sesar, when a strong current was dragging him under water. Without thinking of his own safety, Felix dived into the deep river and pulled his brother out and saved his life.
This selfless act was an early indicator of the type of young man Felix would become, because Gonzalez-Iraheta, better known as "Gonzo" around the barracks, had already led members of his unit to the safety of a bunker that day in May, and was fatally wounded when he left to make sure no one else was in danger.
Once again Felix was more concerned about the safety of others, instead of his own.
Gonzales-Iraheta is an America hero.
While to some narrow-minded people this hero does not fit the image they have of what a hero looks like.
No blue eyes, no blond hair, no milky skin. He was born in El Salvador not mid-west America.
His parents came to this country in search of a better way of life. They worked hard, and built a piece of their dream in a small tight knit community.
When his mother was notified of her oldest son's death, she stated 'That she was at least glad that he had died a hero saving other people's lives."
His family didn't threaten to sue the government or protest at military funerals.
This amazing woman, who said her son was her right hand, took his loss with grace and dignity. The same grace and dignity that her son, Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta, showed on that day in Baghdad when he laid down his life for the men in his unit.
Ironically, this young man, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, had he made it back alive would probably have been profiled in certain parts of the country because "He didn't look American! He didn't look legal!"
It is very easy for some people to say that it is no big deal if a cop asks you for your green card as part of a "routine" stop, but I wonder how those same people would feel if they had been in the hell holes of the world risking their lives for our freedom, only to be told "they don't look like they belong!" when they are walking the streets of the country they protected?
You think they would be upset?
Minorities have long been a viable resource to the armed forces and according to statistics are over represented in military ranks and contrary to popular belief 98 percent of those in the military are not poor or under educated; they come from average income homes of over 40,000.00 annual income and are at least high school graduates with some form of college credits.
When I hear someone say that the only reason some people go into the military is because they had nothing else, I have to resist the urge to be not so motivational and more hard core educational, if you get my drift!
I am an American. I served my country as a police officer, as a proud member of the Mass. State guard, in the Red Cross, PTA, Boy Scouts etc.
Do not insult my college educated intelligence by telling me that when you single someone out because of their "look" that it is not profiling!
A large amount of illegal aliens in this country are blond, blue-eyed people from Europe, and other regions.
I know, because I ran into them as a police officer, yet if we were standing next to each other and I was not in my uniform, guess who would be asked for identification and proof of citizenship?
I am not using Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta or Memorial day as a visual aid for any political agenda.
I believe that everyone in this country should obey all the laws of the land, from immigration, to paying taxes, to not using insider trading to make yourself rich, to buying under age kids alcohol, illegal drug use or drunk driving.
My point is that "American", no longer means a certain look, a certain genetic make up, gender or cultural heritage.
And the most important point is that our freedoms were defended, protected and continue to be protected by heroic people, like Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta.
Some might think they do not look American, yet they are a thousand times more American than those people protesting at military funerals. They are more American than those burning our flag or the group saying that 911 was God's punishment for our way of life.( Who I might add is run by people that would never be asked for their green card cause, well, they sure look "American!".)
What ever side of the immigration battle you are on has nothing to do with my point.
My point is that when Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta was saving his men, I do not think the MP's stopped him to see if he was American; I think the unified color of green and the red, white and blue flag that he wore so proudly on that uniform proved his patriotism and nationality; and If that was not enough proof, then maybe the red blood spilling from his body, as he breathe his last breath, so far from home, from his loved ones, to save his men, sure as hell is proof to me!
Sgt. Felix G. Gonzales-Iraheta is buried at Arlington National cemetery and was awarded a bronze star,a purple heart and posthumously promoted to SSGT. for his acts of bravery.
I want everyone to know what an amazing young American he was; I also want his family, his mother, his wife and his daughters to know that we, the American people, will never forget the great price they paid to protect our land, our home, and our United states of America.
Go quiet into the deep night...rest easy my brave warriors and orahhhhh~!!