The large American flag that greets people entering the United States at the San Yisdro border crossing was at half-mast again when I crossed from Mexico early this week.
Thirteen Americans were killed by a suicide bomber at the Abbey Gate at Kabul’s airport. These were the first Americans to die in Afghanistan for over a year.
One was an Army staff sergeant, another a Navy corpsman, and eleven were Marines, most of them from Camp Pendleton.
When the names were released, it struck me that our anti-Mexican former President Trump and his anti-immigrant advisor Stephen Miller must be shocked. Five of the dead were either immigrants or the progeny of immigrants from Mexico and Central America, as indicated in this list:
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Tex.
- Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23, of Roseville, Calif.
- Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover, 31, of Utah
- Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tenn.
- Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, Calif.
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, Jackson, Wyo.
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif.
- Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, of Omaha, Neb.
- Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario, 25, Lawrence, Mass.
- Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, 22, Logansport, Ind.
- Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of Wentzville, Mo.
- Navy Hospital Corpsman Max Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio
Granted that this is a small sample of those serving in the U.S. military, but America’s growing Hispanic population suggests our heroes will increasingly have Spanish surnames. They’re anything but the “criminals and rapists” that Trump warned of, or the “invaders” that Tucker Carlson cites on Fox News.
Note that Trump (remember the “bone spurs”), Miller and and Carlson never served in the armed forces, although they are quick to criticize as “woke” or “losers” those who do if it’s politically convenient.
The Marines who gave their lives in Kabul were real Americans. Trump and his acolytes are not.
I am proud of all who were there working for and defending freedom. I am proud of these “paisanos” of mine who were all young enough to be my grand kids. I am proud of these people because they stepped up to serve above and beyond.
Semper Fi, compañeros. I’ll think of you every time I see an American flag — the flag that honors you and your sacrifice.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a Marine Corps veteran, political consultant and author of the new book White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) & Mexicans. His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.