How Is This Memorial Day Different Than Others? | KCET
How Is This Memorial Day Different Than Others?
I've written lots of military-related news stories: veterans returning to college, opponents of military recruitment in high schools, reaction to Latinos being left out of the Ken Burns World War Two documentary. On Friday I reported about friends and family unveiling a memorial bench at Poly High School for a Long Beach soldier killed in Afghanistan. What I saw that day, the emotions I heard, the presence of a man not there seemed to fully come together for me when I started to write a poem. Here it is:
This is for Sgt. Israel Garcia
This is for the son of Nayarit
Hijo de dios que está en el cielo y en el sol
Son of god in the heavens and the sun
This is for the two year-old Israel
Who'd become a proud Mexican
A proud American
And put on a uniform
With the bronze star, the silver star, the purple heart
This is for the person
Not a Mexicano
Not a gringo
With a broad smile
Who inspired Steven and company
To go kick some Al Qaeda and Taliban ass
Ten years ago
Four years go he fought in Wanat
Was at the airport
Heard the mother wail a "come here"
To the casket
The high school cadets
Presented and retrieved
They're not told what things mean
So they go ask soldiers
This is for the widow and others
Three days before Memorial Day
Now his mother
Lives north of Seattle
The family packs potatoes
And a plaque
Outside the high school library
Says this Nayarit boy
Poet and KPCC Reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez writes his column Movie Miento every week on KCET's SoCal Focus blog. It is a poetic exploration of Los Angeles history, Latino culture and the overall sense of place, darting across LA's physical and psychic borders.
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