We received a poignant letter from a Yakima Valley alum who was touched by an obituary he read in his local newspaper. We want to share it with you:
Once in a while, in our local newspaper there is an article of a worker who was found dead in a field. No one knows much about him. Then, on occasion, someone remembered him saying he was in the army. And where he came from. And that the hard, year-by-year farm work he did feeds our nation, I composed my dedication poem at right, “Ode to the Mexican Man.” As you know, there are men and women veterans, deceased and alive, who have served with honor and dignity. But yet, because of their poverty, or of loneliness, or for some other reason, they and their service and dedication have since been forgotten. With my ode, I would like to bring back that lost honor to those veterans and families. After many people read the poem, they commented that the farmworker in the poem reminds them of an uncle, or of some other relative. —Guillermo William V. Castaneda
Ode to the Mexican Man
There are no known relatives, the obituary said,
Of the Mexican man, a farmer found dead,
Died after falling from a high work-stand,
Deep in the hops field, this itinerant hand.
Born in Texas, moved away,
Rosary Sunday, let us pray,
Nineteen-twenty, year of birth,
Sixty years on the Earth.
Corporal in the army, World War II,
Fought under Bradley and Patton, too,
Loved his Country in every way,
Bury him Monday in a pauper’s grave.
Worked for years among the hop-cone leaves,
In fruits, and stoop-crops, like you and me,
Let’s say him a prayer whenever we can,
Because there are no known relatives of
The Mexican Man.