Dear Eddie ,
Do you remember when our two families worked the fields together back in the early fifties? We were all so poor back then; our whole familes worked just to get enough money to eat and pay the rent. Do you remember all of us rising before dawn and filling the burlap covered water bottles, packing our baloney sandwiches in wax paper, then heading to the grape vinyard or peach orchard? We were always in the fields as the sun came up, the vines still damp in the morning calm. We cut those grapes and either boxed them for the wineries or layed paper trays for the raisins. Remember how hot it got on those 100 degree days? How the knats swarmed about our noses and mouths and drove us nuts? We were just little kids back then, Eddie, and to break the monotony we would plug each other with dirt clods and raise the ire of our parents.
When we marched out of the fields the sun would be setting so we were too tired, Eddie, to do much playing....but on Sundays we'd congregate in one or another's back yard and mount our broomstick horses and hold off the bad guys with cap guns.
Eddie, we shared alot in those days, you ate Okie food with me and I ate home-made tortillas and tamales at Christmas at your house. As the years went by both of our famiies moved around alot back then and it would often be months before I would see you again. We finally got to see each other daily when we got into junior high and high school. What I remember most about you, Eddie, was that perennial smile; I don't think I can ever remember you without that smile!
We both went into the military at the same time, Eddie. You beat me to Vietnam by two months. After getting my orders for Vietnam I was determined to look you up; maybe have a beer or two at the club! You stood me up, Eddie; you died in battle on a February day two months after you deployed. Your face is now frozen in youthful smile now, as I think of you.
I'm now an old man now, Eddie. I was one of the lucky ones who got to come home. But, I remember you Eddie on every veterans day. Eddie, do you remember that big yellow rose bush that climbed the back fence of our house on Thompson? Some day, my friend, I'm going to visit The Wall, and leave you a yellow rose.
I'm proud of you, Eddie ; not Mexican-American, just "American". We need you badly, Eddie...I know there are still many "Eddies" today, just like you, but there are far too many who now march in our streets carrying the Mexican flag and burn and desecrate ours, who see America as an ATM, not the America you died for.