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We have been talking for a long while in the kitchen filled with that beautiful light that pours in from the east. And then Juanita opens a small red cloth sack that holds Juan’s dog tags, his watch, and the contents of his pockets at the time of his death. With great care she removes the cloth and string scapular she had given him, a laminated card with a prayer for soldiers, the images of two guardian angels carrying a child, a small locket of the Virgen de Guadalupe. “The watch,” she says, as she looks at me. “It is still marking the time in Iraq.” Maria Eugenia Guerra is the publisher of LareDOS: A Journal of the Borderlands, where an earlier version of this article first appeared last March. j uan Rodrigo Rodriguez graduated from United South High School in 2000, a much recognized member of the Junio ROTC Marine Corps. He told his father that he wanted to go to college and become a police officerjust as soon as he finished his government service in 2006. On July 15, 2004, he was deployed to Iraq. After spending about a month in San Diego, he came home to El Cenizo in August for eight days. “My heart has hurt ever since I knew he would go,” says Juanita. “I had thought he might go desde el tiempo de las torres gemelas, and I prayed day and night since then that he would not be called. Before he left, I went into his room. I prayed with him and kissed him and hugged him and told him we would go to the shrine of San Juan in Jalisco to give thanks for his safe return. De esa manera se fue contento.” “What I would give that you wouldn’t go,” Rodrigo told Juan the night before he left. “I’d have given my own life, my soul. We prayed, and I told him, ‘I don’t know what I would do if I got news that something has happened to you.’ “And then he was gone. I did not want to think it was the last time I would see my son. I could see that he was sad but that he was keeping it well hidden.” “I heard my parents talking to Juan that night,” says Fatima. “My mother told Juan, CI will die if something happens to you.’ My father said, And I will die without her to care for me:” Juan called his parents from Germany and then from Iraq, telling them that it was very dangerous there but that he was safe. During another call, Rodrigo remembers, “he said there had not been a day of peace and that they were fighting in an area donde las casas eran muy humildes. He observed that many of the Iraqis were golpeados por la vida.” The calls were always brief. “He spoke in a hushed tone and never gave his location. He said they had to keep moving and that they didn’t have one place to sleep.” Juanita remembers that the first time Juan called from Iraq, she thought he sounded congested. “It was that way the second time he called and the third, and then I realized he was sad and might be scared,” she tells me, adding, “That is what was in his voice:’ “This is a useless war,” says Rodrigo. “It has no meaning. It has no honor.” “Se esta peleando por petroleo. Un gobierno debe cuidar su casa y no casa ajena. “My son was in a vehicle that offered him no protection. What kind of government sends its children to war without what they will need to survive? If this was a good war, why don’t the daughters of the president serve, or the sons and daughters of congressmen? “I think sometimes we are going to become old very quickly, because this is hard and it will always hurt. “Things have lost some of their meaning. Time passes in an unordinary way. We look for our routine, but we can’t exactly find the order of our lives. Juan was such a part of that order.” TRADUCCIoN casa azul, en la Calle Morales, troquita Ford colorada, un liston de luto en el porton blue house, on Morales Street, red Ford truck, a black ribbon on the gate Dame razon de mi hijo Give me news of my son pasatiempos pastimes vicio vice desde el tiempo de las torres gemelas since the time of the twin towers de esa manera se fue contento in that respect he was happy when he went donde las casas eran muy humildes where the houses were very humble golpeados por la vida beat up by life Se estd peleando por el petroleo. Un gobierno debe cuidar su casa y no casa ajena. They’re fighting for oil. A government should take care of its own house, not a foreign house. CORRIDO Juan Rodrigo Rodriguez, I want to remember here, in this humble homage that I wish to dedicate On the twenty-first of January, on a cool morning the Mexican community was already waiting for you City of El Cenizo, Texas that no one can forget because now it has a hero pride of this city APRIL 15, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31