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Public Statements

Immigrant Soldiers

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


IMMIGRANT SOLDIERS -- (House of Representatives - May 14, 2007)

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Mr. SALAZAR. I want to thank the gentleman from Texas for yielding, Mr. Gonzalez, and I want to thank your leadership for bringing this very important issue to the forefront.

Tonight, I would like to tell the story of Christopher Herrera. Lance Corporal Evenor Christopher Herrera was just 9 years old when his family came to the United States from Honduras in search of opportunity. He found that opportunity for himself in the United States serving in the Marine Corps, which he joined a year after graduating from Gypsum's Eagle Valley High School in Colorado.

He figured that enlisting he could pave the way to a better future, or, as he told his family, the 22 year-old would be considered a hero if he should die while serving his adopted country. Fate chose him the latter. On August 10, 2005 while manning a machine gun during a clash near Ar Ramadi in Iraq, an improvised explosive device detonated. Herrera was killed in combat with a month and a half left before he was to return home.

From the time his family immigrated from Honduras, he began talking about joining the Army. Christopher, as he was known to his family and friends, was not naive about the dangers he faced in Iraq. His brother, who was also a Marine, said that Christopher was happy to fight for the country that he loved. He would rather die over there as a hero and be remembered as doing something good, as opposed to being here and not remembered at all.

His mother, Blanca, said that he joined because he wanted to have more opportunity in this country. He wanted a career in the Marines. The stories about Christopher come easily. His sister recalled about how shy he was, but yet he was fearless, and once drove a 4-wheel-drive vehicle down a muddy hill, nearly flipping it over. Christopher enjoyed typical mountain activities like most young men in Colorado, like fishing and snowboarding.

The brothers often went camping. The brothers were close, but because they were both deployed Balmore Herrera hadn't seen his brother in 7 months. When Christopher was killed, Balmore was called to act as official military transport as his brother's body was transported from Maryland to Colorado.

There have been 3,396 service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and over 25,000 Americans wounded. This evening, members of the Hispanic Caucus rise to recognize immigrant service members because these brave men and women didn't have the privilege of being born in this country. They chose to live here, and also made the choice to serve the country they loved in the Armed Forces.

Many immigrants, like Christopher, have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Each of them has a story. Each story is filled with struggle and a hope for opportunity. Like Christopher, each story is also filled with sacrifice.

There is an Internet blog set up as a memorial for Lance Corporal Herrera. Whiskey 3, Red 2, left these words for him:

``To my fellow brother Evenor, I had the great privilege of serving with you in the good and the bad times.

``I'll keep fighting the good fight, and one day I'll see you again ..... and together we can guard the gates of heaven as we once guarded each other in Iraq.

``You will never be forgotten.''

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