30 de noviembre de 2007

Puerto Rico Natives Go To War For U.S.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO -- Close to 4,000 American troops have lost their lives fighting in Iraq since the war began in 2003.
Each fallen soldier has a story, including a young man who made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States – even though the United States is not his home.
Enrolling in the military is something Carmen Hernandez never imagined her son, Francisco Martinez, would do, but when he graduated from high school and told his mother his plans, she promised her support.
"If that's what you want, and you're really sure that's what you want, you have my blessing. But I never thought he wasn't going to come back," Hernandez said.
Martinez joined the army in 2002. Two years later, in August 2004, he was sent to Iraq, but Martinez was about to fight in a war that didn't directly involve his homeland.
Martinez was from Puerto Rico, but because the island is an American territory, when the U.S. goes to war, so does the island.
On March 20, 2005, at the age of 20, Martinez was on a routine patrol in Ramadi when he was shot and killed by a sniper.
Back in Puerto Rico, his mother was out shopping when she got the call.
"I just let myself go down to the floor because I closed my eyes and I could say nothing. I started screaming and yelling in the store and everybody started looking at me and I told my husband, 'Get me out of here,'" Hernandez said.
"We mourn the more than 700,000 Iraqi lives lost in this war, as well as almost 4,000 American lives, and of course the Puerto Rican lives," Sonia Santiago Hernandez said.
She is the founder of Madres Contra La Guerra, or Mothers Against War.
"Having a son over there, I needed to transform my anguish into action," Santiago Hernandez said.
The nonpartisan group, based in Puerto Rico, serves as a support system for military families. Through its Web site, blogs, and rallies, Mothers Against War spreads its message of peace.
"Motherhood is life, and war is the antithesis of motherhood," Santiago Hernandez said.
Ever since the island became a U.S. territory in 1898, Puerto Rican soldiers have fought and died in every major war.
So far, more than 60 soldiers from Puerto Rico have died in Iraq.
Puerto Rico's Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila thinks it's time to bring the troops home.
"Yes they are very loyal, very brave, but I think it has been too long and we should find a way to end this war and bring the kids back," Vila said.
"We are not meant to go to our kid's funeral. You are supposed to die before your kids. You're not supposed to bury your kid because of a war," Hernandez said.
One of the arguments for statehood is that if the island becomes a state, Puerto Rican soldiers will finally be able to vote for the commander in chief who sends them to war.
Puerto Rico's governor, who wants the island to stay a commonwealth, said he has no problem with Puerto Ricans serving in the U.S. military because it's completely voluntary, but he is against the war in Iraq and wants to see the soldiers serving there back home with their families.
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