I’m about to turn fifty and if I didn’t interview my dad for my book I never would have known about my uncle, Isidro, and his tour in during World War II in the Puerto Rican 65th infantry, the most famous in the island’s history. On November 9, 1945, my father, Ramón, and his sister, Lila, drove along the southern coast of Puerto Rico to meet Isidro and the surviving members of the 65th infantry in
Ponce. After a tour of duty that took them to
Panama, North Africa, Casablanca, Germany,
Italy and the Maritime Alps
the men were coming home.
Puerto Ricans from all over the island came to
to celebrate the infantry’s return. It would be the first time the siblings,
Ramón, Isidro and Lila, laid eyes on each other after Isidro's spending years on the battlefield.
Imagine the electricity in the air as islanders waved Puerto Rican and American flags and cheered and celebrated the end of the war. Music blared from roadside bars and the sangria flowed freely. Joyous pandemonium reigned.
Their reunion is one of the most moving stories my father shared, as he told me of he and his brother embracing after four years. Dad’s voice became hoarse and wistful as he recalled the events from that day, how he held his brother at arms length, how handsome Isidro looked in uniform, yet how different, older than his 26 years.
Isidro was my dad’s only brother never to have a family. And I feel a little part of Isidro in me, as if for only a moment, I’ve brought him back to life. After all, he is an ancestor, and we share DNA. I wish I had a photo of Isidro on that day, but the one below shows Ramón (age three) and Lila (age five) as she was like a little mother to my dad, and shared in this very important memory!
This story is for my thirteen-year-old daughter, and my nieces and nephew. Yet I have yet to share with her the reason why I wrote these stories down, turned them into a book she can read her history. Why??
Describe a reunion with someone in your life that stands out to you. Or ask a loved one or a parent to describe a meaningful reunion to you. Share it here.