Remembering A Soldier Who Died For His Country Before Becoming A Citizen

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Memorial Day weekend is a time when a lot of Americans remember those who have served and lost their lives during war — and not all of those individuals were U.S. citizens. When the Iraq war started, nearly 40,000 members of the military were not U.S. citizens. Army Pfc. Diego Rincon was one of them.

In 1989, his family immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia. In 2003, he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq. He died for his country even though he wasn't a citizen.

"We came here when he was 5-years-old," Reyes says. "Diego started speaking English faster than we did. He was often letting me know, 'When I finish high school, I'm going to join the Army.' "

Diego did go on to join the Army and he was on his way to becoming a citizen, along with his parents.

"Before he went to Iraq, he got the green card," George says. "But he said to me, 'Dad, don't do the citizenship until I return. We'll do it together.' "

Reyes says the last time she spoke to Diego, he told her he had written her a letter, but instructed her not to open it until she was ready.

"A week later I got the letter, and it was different from the rest," Reyes says. "He was talking about this feeling that he had that he was going to die. He asked for forgiveness for anything wrong that he had done, and he said that he loves me. This letter was like a bucket of icy water."

Diego died on March 29, 2003.

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