Filipino-Americans are one of the fastest growing groups in the US, but we are less than 1% of the total. The total casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom thus far represent more than our proportional share. The composite numbers now indicate a polyglot military of new immigrants and women. Just like the great American pastime, the names of baseball players on the lineup contain Hispanics and Asians, changing the American landscape.
September 11 changed everything, for the multi-ethnic victims of the World Trade Center reflect a US Armed Forces collection of men of different colors. An executive order granting automatic citizenship to the casualties were issued before the conflict started and immediate citizenship to those who serve in combat.
Sgt Menusa was not only buried with the American flag but also with the long-awaited citizenship that eluded him, despite the fact he had served in Gulf Wars I and II. He is not a reluctant hero, he volunteered. Somber news from the White House read,
On Friday, during a tearful tour of the two Washington-area
military hospitals, Bush met with 75 wounded troops, handed out 10 Purple
Hearts and watched two servicemen, one from Mexico, the other from the
Philippines, be sworn in as U.S. citizens. Citizenship for one of them,
Lance Cpl. O.J. Santa Maria, a Filipino who lives in Daly City, Calif.,
was expedited as a result of an executive order. Bush signed the bill
last year that allowed faster naturalization for anyone involved in military
hostilities. Suffering visibly from a shoulder wound received in Asariyah
and hooked up to a blood transfusion, Santa Maria stood, ignoring protests,
for the ceremony. Halfway through, he broke down sobbing from the pain
and the occasion. "We're proud to have you as an American,"
Bush told him, according to press secretary Ari Fleischer. "I'll
never forget this moment."
"Miracle" is the theme in the mind
of a Fil-am mother who prayed with her block rosary for the safe return
of her son, Joseph. Captured in southern Iraq with four other soldiers
from the 507th Maintenance Company, Spc. Joseph Hudson is now a POW, a
23-year-old motor pool mechanic and rear-guard G.I. who has suddenly been
thrust into the spotlight of a nation's drama and a family's heartache.
"I didn't have any idea at all that my son would get captured in
Iraq," said Anecita Hudson, 51, a Philippines-born military wife
and mother whose eyes well with tears almost at the mention of her first-born
son. "My baby don't work in high technology weapons -- he just went
over there to help the others. He's just one of those good boys who went
over there. All I knew was my son was in Kuwait." The gruesome pictures
of the captured soldier were not shown on National TV but it did not escape
Aling Aniceta when she saw her son on the Filipino TV cable satellete.
Almost naive at times, but honestly said she could read her Joseph face
on the screen . Her interviews were shown on Iraq TV, and during his captivity,
a guard told Joseph that they saw his mom on television. Joseph Hudson
is now flying home for Easter.