U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Cong. Charles Rangel Pays tribute to Sgt. Riayan Tejeda

                          Lawmaker Says the Sacrifice of  Wars Should be Shared by All
                          WASHINGTON, April 21, 2003-- Cong. Charles Rangel  today payed tribute to Marine Staff
                          Sgt. Riayan Tejeda, a resident of Washington Heights who was killed in a battle in Baghdad on
                          April 11th.

                          "Sgt. Tejeda was a hero in every sense of the word, a man born in the Dominican Republic who
                          made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States," Cong. Rangel said following funeral
                          ceremonies at St. Elizabeth's Church in Washington Heights.

                          "No words can relieve the pain Sgt. Tejeda's family is suffering right now, but they they have my
                          deepest sympathies and that of my family which, through my son, abides by the Marine Corps'
                          'Semper Fi.'" the Congressman continued. "I can only say that the gift that the Tejeda family has
                          given to this nation, through the sacrifice of their  eldest son, has earned them a permanent debt
                          of gratitude."

                          At the funeral, which was filled with grieving family members and friends, Cong. Rangel sat with
                          a delegation of elected officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Assemblyman Adriano
                          Espaillat,  and Councilman Miguel Martinez.  Last week, the Congressman presented the
                          Tejeda family with the traditional ceremonial American flag reserved for those who have fallen
                          in battle for the United States.

                          "Even before he fell in battle, Riayan Tejeda showed his character and toughness by
                          overcoming the pitfalls of life in our community," Cong. Rangel said.  "He has been a role model
                          to his family and his community. Now he is a model of heroism to our city, our nation and to the
                          great land of his birth."

                          Sgt. Tejeda, a 26-year-old father of two young children, enlisted in the Marine Corps eight
                          years ago.  Surviving his teen years in the rough 'n tumble Washington Heights neighborhood,
                          he graduated from George Washington High School.  For Tejeda, like so many others,
                          enlistment in the Armed Forces was a source of pride and opportunity.

                          Noting the high percentage of Hispanics and Blacks killed in the Iraq war, Cong. Rangel
                          repeated his call for shared sacrifice by all social and economic groups in service to the
                          country.  Unofficial estimates of fatalities among minorities so far in this conflict are as high 35
                          percent of the 128 killed, far above their representation in the national population. Historically,
                          since the end of the universal draft during the Vietnam War, lower income Whites and minorities
                          have born the disproportionate burden of service in the military.

                          "Sgt. Tejeda has paid the price for his willingness to place himself in harm's way for the country
                          like many individuals who, ironically, have had the least opportunity to share in its wealth,"
                          Cong. Rangel said.

                          "Sgt. Tejeda did not shy away from doing his share and  made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of
                          his chosen country. This is true patriotism and, rightly, a great source of pride to his grieving
                          family, our community and our nation," Cong. Rangel said.