The Luna Family. Bottom left to right: Gloria, Florinda, Lydia, Top left to right: Ylefonso, Artemio, Heradio
By Herardio Luna
When I first started writing these articles I had no idea the immigration problem would come up. But if you’ve been reading what I’ve been writing, then you have to understand why I’m going to say the things I’m going to say. After all, at least one of my parents at one time was an illegal citizen of this country. She came to this country because she had no other choice. She had loved her country, and I would bet my bottom dollar had she had a choice, she would have wanted to die in her native country. But in this life, our future is not out there for the taking because there are so many variables that inch their way into the picture. I am one story, and so are you the reader. Our drama has not been fashioned entirely on our own. Some, if not most, was dictated from without. The future I expected, the future I wanted, was not at my disposal. As much as I wanted, as much as I hoped, as much as I tried, my future would be dictated from without. In the interstices of my life, other people with stories all their own and whose lives were unraveling intersected with our family’s life and for better or worse had a great deal to do with how our future unfolded. They never planned it that way, nor did we, but it happened. We are creatures walking the face of this earth so interconnected, so interdependent on each other that whatever we say or do affects other people at any given moment in time. This occurs in familial life, in communities, in entire countries, and to all who walk on the face of this world.
I’ve thought a lot about how happy the Gonzales family might have been when they were living in Mexico. They were framing and fitting a cellular family mosaic quite contently, something every family yearns to do. Work was no problem. They enjoyed fulfilling their assigned tasks in their efforts to make a dream come true. They attended church services every Sunday, and I’m sure they enjoyed little fiestas common to all communities. The siblings were looking for lifetime partners to extend their progeny. Life had meaning and the obligations entailed in living it out made sense. But then something totally unpredicted happened; like an unforeseen West Texas whirlwind the revolution came to them, and like scattered debris the lives of many were scattered asunder. I am certain the Gonzales family was not the only one trying to remove themselves from this predicament. This was not planned; it was something which would rattle the very foundation of many families altering their very future. Circumstances not of their making would insist they seek new avenues, new solutions to life’s priorities. The Gonzales’ had to be thinking should they ride out the revolution and risk losing everything they had worked for? Should they become involved in evolutionary events they knew nothing about? And worst case scenario, should they pack up and abandon their life’s work and leave all their possessions behind? Because they were God fearing people, desiring only the best for their neighbor and themselves, and because peace and tranquility reigned in their hearts, they were left with no other alternative but to leave and start anew. It is my undaunted belief this required muchos “huevos” on Yldefonso’s part.
When I am at work around the yard, or trying to go to sleep at night, in the most unexpected times my mind regurgitates the same question over and over again. Under the same state of affairs, would I have had the courage to do what my grandparents did? I have to believe it was a splendid, courageous decision on Yldefonso’s part. Weighing heavily on his mind would have been the perils they would confront on their journey to the north. Despite all obstacles he displayed a stout-hearted spirit. I am sure he consulted with his wife Maximina many times about the different possibilities, but once the decision had been made, he would see it through. There was no other recourse. Familial peace had to prevail.
Of one thing I am certain. The Gonzales family has played its part in United States history. We were there during the depression. We were there during WWII. We were there during the Korean War, as well as the Viet Nam Conflict. Iraq? I don’t know what to call it. Is it a war? A conflict? A war that’s not a war? A mess? Whatever you call it, we’re there now. Several of our family members are serving their tours at this very moment. I don’t mind telling you I am very much against our involvement in this conflict. But is our family shirking its duty? No! I, we, are there. I, after emigrating to the U. S., I don’t care what part of U. S. history you talk about, if it comes after the depression, WE WERE THERE! Not because we wanted to be, but because the world dictated we be there. The Gonzales family most assuredly worked itself into the fabric of American society. Is not America about full participation? If we didn’t melt it wasn’t our fault. We furnished the fleshly ingredients, but America refused to turn on the red, white and blue Bunsen burners. Think! Of how many different countries is American society compromised? Amongst the Gonzales family, you will find Doctors of Degrees of Education, of Psychology and of Music. Also, you will find Masters found in high positions of the United States Border Patrol, as police department officers, government jobs in Washington, and myriads of important positions that U. S. citizens should occupy. There are many teachers in the family right now with Degrees in the Arts, in Science, Bilingual Education and Business. You’ll find them teaching in Pennsylvania, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Louisiana, California and Arizona in elementary, junior high school and in universities. And of course, you will find them working as janitors, sales people, construction workers, fast food managers and no telling what else. We have tried awfully hard not to be a burden on American society.
As Americans, and you need to understand what I mean by the word American, we need to be very conscientious of how we treat people from other countries. It was fashionable at one time to exclude any Mexican-American from participating in mainstream America. We were not allowed in public swimming pools, restaurants, cemeteries, schools, theatres, golf courses, and believe it or not, in churches, and many other places. Believe me, I’ve been there. Blacks and Orientals have gone through their own ordeals, as have Native Americans and real Indians from India, as well as people from Central and South America. The problem continues and the questions remain the same. Why are these people leaving their homeland? Why is it necessary for some to sacrifice their lives in the process of coming to America? What is happening to this world?
I sincerely believe there are people out there who are dictating most of the events occurring in this world. In their quest for power and money, they are able to manipulate the business sector which in turn affects entire populations that inadvertently become involved in their money making schemes. Whatever the cause, keep this in mind. I am, and probably will remain until I die, a hyphenated American. Whether you opt to call me a little Mezkin, Mexican-American, Hispanic, Latino, brown or other, America, please listen. We are ONE. Whether you like it or not WE ARE ONE. God made us so. You cannot change it. If we expect to make a difference in this world, we have to pay attention to our ordained to judge, to condemn, to force, to dictate in any shape, form or manner, how other people should live out their lives. I am always very conscious of the fact that every person I meet, regardless of color, creed, size, sex, nationality, I see, in that person, the image of Him who is I. I am an extension of the great, I AM. And when I see another person, I’m looking at another extension of the same great I AM. Will this truth ever hit home? I wonder?
As I approach the December years of my life, I appreciate more and more, God’s interminable goodness for having permitted me the privilege of having lived out my life here in Van Horn. I love the life he allowed me to live and the people he surrounded me with to share their lives with me. I thank Him for the people he placed in my path to teach me the lessons I needed to learn, however harsh they were, and the ones who were more lenient towards me. I was born in the U.S.A, lived my life in the U.S.A., and will die in the U.S. A., proud to be an American, an American who loves his Mexican heritage.