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My Tribute to Heroes

A Grateful Immigrant

Many of us came to America in quest for a better life, but how many of us really know what it means to have the freedom of opportunity to accomplish just about anything we want in life? To me, to be an American is a gift that allows me to extend goodness to others, to my family and even to the ones I don't know. No, I can not deny the genetic make up of my blood that runs through my veins, nor will I abandon my motherland, but the life I now have is the life that this adopted country of mine has afforded me so I can be what I should be. This is all because of FREEDOM of opportunity to almost everything there is to have as a human being.

This article is my heartfelt tribute to our soldiers, but especially dedicated to the fallen heroes who served under the Flag of the United States of America not only for us to continue to live freely, but to promote humanity throughout the world.

A recent heartbreaking return of our fallen heroes has tremendously touched every fiber of my being. Reading through todayís newspaper (The Atlanta Journal Constitution) made me grieve with the family of one particular hero. This is because this soldier has given up his life meaningfully for his adopted country - the United States of America.

The Rincon family from Colombia, South America is not much different from the rest of us, Filipino immigrants. The only difference is that George Rincon (with his wife and two young sons) fled their homeland to protect his family from the wave of terrorism unleashed by that countryís drug cartel. Arriving in the State of Georgia in 1989, Rinconís youngest son, Diego was only 5 years old. Diego grew up in Rockdale County, Georgia (just outside of Atlanta). His high school life has been described as a decent one because he was actively involved in meaningful school activities (including a play where he portrayed a soldier killed in the Vietnam War). However, one shining characteristic of this young man was his Patriotism. According to reports, he was loyal to the country that had welcomed him. Then his turning point came on the day 9/11 tragedy occurred - "he knew then it was time to repay his adopted country and fight terrorism." And so, within six months, Diego Rincon was in the U.S. Army. He wanted to be a Ranger - the U.S. Armyís elite.

This week we mourned the loss of our fallen heroes from Georgia. Pfc. Diego Fernando Rincon was killed in action on March 23 when he and his comrades approached an Iraqi (in a taxicab) calling for help, and when they did the taxicab blew up like the terrorist tricks ever flowing around the world. No words can explain the agony that these families ever have to face. Before his death, Diego wrote his last "goodbye" to his family. The letter was written at a U.S. Army Camp in Kuwait, dated Feb 22 and received by his family on March 22. Copied from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Hola Mother,

How are you doing? Good, I hope. Iím doing OK, I guess. I wonít be able to write anymore starting the 28th of this month. We are moving out. We are already packed and ready to move to a tactical Alpha-Alpha (in Iraq). Once that happens, there will not be any mail sent out. We will only receive mail that is less than 12 ounces. At least thatís what they said.

Iím not sure where exactly weíre going (to) be yet, but it is said to be a 20-hour drive in the Bradleys (fighting vehicles). So I guess the time has finally come for us to see what we are made of, who will crack when the stress level rises and who will be calm all the way through it. Only time will tell. We are at the peak of our training and itís time to put it to the test.

I just want to tell everybody how much you all mean to me and how much I love you all. Mother, I love you so much! Iím not going to give up! Iím living my life one day at a time, sitting here picturing home with a small tear in my eyes, spending time with my brothers, who will hold my life in their hands.

I try not to think of what may happen in the future, but I canít stand seeing it in my eyes. Thereís going to be murders, funerals and tears rolling down everybodyís eyes. But the only thing I can say is, keep my head up and try to keep the faith and pray for better days. All this will pass. I believe God has a path for me. Whether I make it or not, itís all part of the plan. It canít be changed, only completed.

"Mother" will be the last word Iíll say. Your face will be the last picture that goes through my eyes. Iím not trying to scare you, but itís reality. The time is here to see the plan laid out. And, hopefully, Iíll be at home in it. I donít know what Iím talking about or why Iím writing it down. Maybe I just want someone to know what goes through my head. Itís probably good not keeping it all inside.

I just hope that youíre proud of what Iím doing and have faith in my decisions. I will try hard and not give up. I just want to say (Iím) sorry for anything I have ever done wrong. And Iím doing it all for you, Mom. I love you.

P.S. Very Important Document

Your son,
Diego Rincon

Pfc Diego Fernando Rincon was assigned to the U. S. Army 2-7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division in Fort Stewart, Georgia.

There is much we can do for these heroes, but the least is to honor them. In gratitude to this adopted country of ours, I urge my Filipino brothers and sisters in America to support our soldiers. They are what the United States of America is made of, so that the immigrants, (like you and I) can fully live a life of Freedom, and the people of the whole world can live as human beings.

Ging Mutia

Atlanta, Georgia