Editorial: Americans in death
Immigrant Marines pay ultimate price
Bee Editorial Staff -
Among the more than 50 deaths and scores of injuries suffered
thus far by American forces in Iraq, there are many tales of heroics and
country. But four fallen Marines deserve special mention because they died in service to a country they could not yet call their own. They were Pfc.
Francisco Martinez Flores, Cpl. Jose Angel Garibay and Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez del Solar, all born in Mexico, and Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, born in
The three Mexican citizens were green card holders, and
they were in large company in the U.S. military. Some 36,000 like them
now serve in the
American armed forces. Most have green cards; others hold some other form of legal residence. Virtually all hope one day to be American citizens, so
much that they are willing to die for it.
Gutierrez, 27, was an orphan and an illegal immigrant who
came to California from Guatemala, on foot and by hopping trains, in 1997.
Given his legal
status, it isn't clear how he was able to join the Marines last year. The military says it requires permanent, legal residency of its members. But
Gutierrez was unquestionably a Marine: He died of combat wounds on March 21. Military officials say he will be made an American citizen
Immigrants have long seen the U.S. military as a gateway
to citizenship, education and economic opportunity, and the deaths of these
echo those of other non-citizens who died for this country before them. But their lives remind us how much we sometimes take for granted the rights
and privileges of a citizenship they coveted. In honoring their sacrifice, let's try not to forget how important those rights and privileges are.