memorial day

Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, watches the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He is holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War, 11/13/1982.

“I’ve seen a ton on the facebooks about "thanking veterans for their service.” As a veteran let me just be very straightforward and honest with you. We didn’t “serve our country”; we don’t actually serve our brothers/sisters or our neighbors. We serve the interests of Capital. We never risked our lives or spent months on deployment away from our family and friends so they can have this abstract concept called “freedom”. We served big oil; big coal; Coca-Cola; Kellogg, Brown, and Root and all the other big Capital interests who don’t know a fucking thing about sacrifice. These people will never have to deal with the loss of a loved one or the physical and/or psychological scars that those who “serve”, and their families, have to deal with for the rest of their lives. The most patriotic thing someone can do is to tell truth to power and dedicate yourself to building power to overthrow these sociopathic assholes. I served with some of the most real and genuine people I’ve ever met. You’ll never see solidarity like the kind of solidarity you experience when your life depends on the person next to you. But most of us didn’t join for that; we joined because we were fucking poor and didn’t have many other options.“

— An anti-capitalist veteran

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.’ ”

Remembering A Soldier Who Died For His Country Before Becoming A Citizen

Photo: Von Diaz/StoryCorps