Blood Spilled In Iraq
From El Diario
April 14, 2003
By Jose Acosta
Sadness and mourning have come to the home of a Dominican family,
whose son, despite the fact that he is an immigrant that had never
applied for citizenship, was killed defending the American flag
Last Saturday, at 12:45 in the afternoon, two army officials rang
the Tejadas bell to inform them that their son, marine sergeant
Riayan A. Tejada, 26, had died in battle.
According to Tejadas father, Julio Cesar Tejada, the army
officials only told them that their son Riayan had perished
in an encounter in a part of Iraq, on the way to Syria.
Described by his father as a young person who loved his profession,
Sergeant Riayan A. Tejada, divorced, father of two girls ages 4
and 2, joined the army at 18 years old, after graduating from George
Washington high school in Upper Manhattan.
He liked to study, to practice, and in the army he was an
expert sharp shooter, said Tejada.
Last December, the first Christmas after 10 years of absence, the
young sergeant went to his home country, the Dominican Republic.
In Santiago, Riayan communicated with his father about his future
His goals were, for this summer, to ask to be transferred
to Virginia to study, and later go to Washington. He wanted to climb
in the army in order to get a high rank, Tejada explained.
He added that his wife, Carmen Lora, suffered an athsma attack when
she heard about her sons death.
We feel destroyed, without the energy to do anything. We
have not only lost a son, but a friend, a companion. To his mother
he would always say, Mami, go ahead and go to the beach, to
the casino. He always had us in mind, said the soldiers
Tejada assured that he had always supported his sons goals
and admitted that he did not feel right about what happened, because
they are using young blood, sending him to a camp where he didnt
know the terrain.
It is like saying, if you were to come to my home to look
for me, you dont know by which alleyway you are going to enter
and I could be there waiting. One thing is to teach them how to
shoot, another thing is to teach them how to walk in the sand, in
a territory far away, he explained.
Tejada said that he was frustrated and confused because the last
time he talked with the Marines, in the Upper Manhattan office,
they said that his son was in a command post, only directing the
battle, and that he wasnt in danger because he wasnt
going to be on the front lines.
On Friday night they (the United States Marines) talked to
me. But it isnt like they really explained things to me. My
question is: What was he doing at the front of the battle when he
wasnt supposed to be? They said he was only directing a command,
Sergeant Tejada died in combat last Saturday at 12:30 at night.
His remains will be buried in New York. In a crown of carnations
hung on the door of his building, at 102 W 180th Street, it reads,
We will always remember you.
Translated from Spanish by Jonathan Charnay
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