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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Citizenship and Sacrifice

At the Los Angeles Times, Kurt Streeter writes about Rachel Santiago and Rodolfo Hizon, immigrants from the Philippines whose son Ryan died in Afghanistan just before they became citizens. They called him "Amboy," short for "American boy."
A black-robed magistrate judge rose to a podium.

"Today the oath of citizenship is given renewed meaning," she said. "Among our new citizens are two parents whose son, Ryan Hizon, was a decorated soldier in the United States Army.... Tragically, Ryan was killed in action this year...."

Rodolfo, his eyes glistening, brushed Rachel's trembling shoulder with his right hand.

"He made the ultimate sacrifice for his country...."

Rachel looked down, her somber gaze frozen on the carpeted floor.

"His life reminds us of the opportunities and the responsibilities of citizenship. Today, Ryan's parents become citizens. They become part of the fabric of a nation that has been enriched by immigrants who bring with them a new energy, sacrifice and commitment to America."

Soon the judge was done. Ryan's parents raised their hands to their hearts and pledged loyalty to their adopted nation.

Americans now, they slipped out of the hall. Something important needed to be done.

The sun was still fresh on the cemetery bluff when Ryan's family arrived at his grave.

Rodolfo and Rachel hugged Russell and Rochelle, who now wait for their own citizenship. Together, they prayed for Ryan, speaking to him in silence.

"Hello Ryan, I love you," Rodolfo said. "Let me tell you about the wonderful thing we just did.…"

"Thank you, Amboy," Rachel said. "Thank you for what you have done."

"Amboy, we will never forget."