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The friends who returned view
The friends who returned
Date 2016-10-05 오후 3:12:43 View 3340

The followings are the excerpt of a special feature article of El Nuevo Dia.

To read the full version of the article, please refer to the attachment.



The friends who returned


In Seoul National Cemetery and the War Museum, 17 Puerto Rican veterans remembered the fallen in solemn ceremonies


EL NUEVO DÍA

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mabel M. Figueroa Pérez



SEOUL, Korea - It was a sunny and cool morning. For the Seoul National Cemetery the day was not an ordinary day, since it was graced by veterans of the Korean War. The solemnity dominated every space.


At the entrance, the veterans who fought together to defend South Korea, lined up for a march and incense burning ceremony. And among them, 17 were Puerto Rican soldiers of the US Army 65th Infantry Regiment.


The veterans were lined for a row waiting for the signal and began to march together to pay tribute to friends and comrades who lost their lives in combat. They gave a few firm steps and walked upright. Others followed without breaking the line with the help of their canes or wheelchairs. Silence filled the area. When they arrived, they offered a salute.


It is a sacred way to show respect for the dead in Korea. Offering the incense three times is reserved for important people. The incense symbolizes purification for spirits of loved ones. After the ceremony, everyone formed again and walked backed to the entrance.


Then the veterans moved to the War Memorial of Korea, where plates are stamped with the names of all KIAs of the Korean War. At the War Memorial, each veteran was handed a white flower to offer it as a tribute to the dead.


On that occasion, Don Ismael Heredia represented the Boriqueneers. The ceremony also consisted three steps up and placing flowers at the foot of a column of the names.


"I was surprised that I was selected for depositing the offering floral. It has been a privilege

to honor our companions and I want thank the Korean government, " Don Ismael said.


After the ceremony, the 17 Puerto Ricans veterans and their families searched to find the names of the Puerto Ricans casualties.


"I did not expect that they would under the banner names of Puerto Rico," one Puerto Rican admitted.  


Don Rafael Gomez was overwhelmed with sadness at that moment. He searched for the names

that of his friends, but he had no luck.


The lost friends have not faded from their friends’ memories. So much so, at the memory, Rafael can not hold back the tears. It was a difficult time.

"I am very sad ..." confessed Boricua Trujillo Alto, who was decorated with the Purple Heart Medal

Purple after being wounded in the battlefield while trying to recover the body of one of the comrades.


For Carlos Peña Lozano, Cayey, the moment was very touching. He sought the name of his friend,

Fred Angel Valentin, who failed to survive the dangers of war.


It is even more dramatic because Fred died while saving the life Don Carlos.It was on December 24

1951, a date he will never forget.

"This has been very touching ... , " said the old soldier.


The morning ended.


The 17 veterans retired, leaving behind the names of their friends engraved on the plates as they are tattooed permanently in their hearts until this day, after 66 years.

 

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