Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

Sunday, April 06, 2003

One more before I go:

Full article at the Torrance (CA) Daily Breeze

Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez died for his country, but didn’t live long enough to be called one of its citizens.

The 22-year-old U.S. Marine from Lomita, who was among the first to die in combat in Iraq, was officially made a United States citizen Wednesday with the stroke of a pen at a government office in Laguna Niguel.

"This is someone who wanted to be in this country, who was willing to sacrifice his life," said Ron Rogers, a spokesman for the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Also honored with a certificate of citizenship was Cpl. Jose Angel Garibay, 21, of Costa Mesa, who also was killed in Iraq.

No ceremony was held and no family members were present, but Gutierrez’s foster family in Lomita was pleased.

"I’m proud, because that’s what he wanted," said his foster sister, Lillian Cardenas.

Gutierrez, a Guatemala native who attended Harbor College in Wilmington, had planned to go to school to become an architect when his tour of duty was completed.

He also wanted to become an American citizen.

"He can still see it," Cardenas said of the certificate. "He is just not here physically to see it."

Gutierrez joined the military, his foster family said, to give back to his new country. He also hoped it would send him to college.

Gutierrez was 8 years old when his father died in Guatemala. An orphan, he lived at Casa Alianza, a homeless center in Guatemala City, and longed for a life in the United States after befriending an American social worker.

At 14, Gutierrez and another homeless boy walked and rode trains and buses through Central America and Mexico, parting ways in San Diego. Gutierrez found shelter at a homeless center in Hollywood and soon went to live with the Mosquera family in Lomita, which took in foster children.

Gutierrez graduated from North High School in Torrance and a year ago joined the Marines.

He died March 21 on a battlefield near Umm Qasr.