Memorial Day weekend is a time when a lot of Americans remember those who have served and lost their lives during war — and not all of those individuals were U.S. citizens.
When the Iraq war started, nearly 40,000 members of the military were not U.S. citizens. Army Pfc. Diego Rincon was one of them.
In 1989, his family immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia. In 2003, he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq. He died for his country even though he wasn’t a citizen.
His parents, George Rincon and Yolanda Reyes still remember their son and how quickly he adapted to his home in the U.S.
“We came here when he was 5-years-old,” Reyes says. “Diego started speaking English faster than we did. He was often letting me know, ‘When I finish high school, I’m going to join the Army.’ ”
Diego did go on to join the Army and he was on his way to becoming a citizen, along with his parents.
“Before he went to Iraq, he got the green card,” George says. “But he said to me, 'Dad, don’t do the citizenship until I return. We’ll do it together.’ ”
Photo: Von Diaz/StoryCorps