Sunday, March 18, 2007

Carlos Arredondo's undying tribute to son Alex

Alexander Scott Arredondo was born at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston MA, on 5 August 1984. All who knew Alex, loved him. And, he loved everyone. Alex’s final email to his father, Carlos, and step mother, Melida, sent just a few days before his demise simply stated, "Tell everyone I love them."

Anyone who saw Alex and his kid brother, Brian, usually saw one on their Dad’s shoulders and the other waiting for his turn. The three smiling faces could make the sun shine on a rainy day.

It was during a second tour of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom that Carlos Arredondo learned that his son Lcpl. Alexander Arredondo, USMC, had been killed in action on August 25, 2004. Which, also, was Carlos 44th birthday.

Working, at the time, as a handyman in Florida, overcome with anquish and grief, Carlos smashed the window of the Marine van, got inside and doused it with gasoline and then set himself on fire.

Since his son's death -- and while recovering from second degree burns over a quarter of his body -- Carlos, with the support of his wife, Melida, has devoted his time to an almost obsessive mission to keeping his son's memory alive.

Having launched the People United for Peace website, Carlos drives a pick up truck with a coffin in the back and a "my son was killed in action" sign." Arredondo also help other families as a member of the Gold Star Family Project.

Born in Costa Rica, Carlos Arredondo was become an American citizen on 12 December 2006.

I first encountered Carlos Arredondo on Thursday afternoon during my second visit, in as many days, to the Encampment to Stop the War in Washington DC, which was when I took notice of the Camp Alex tent. Observing a man, meticulously, arranging photographs and other such artifacts around the tent, I inquired if it was his.

He said yes. When I asked how would I learn more about him and his project he suggested that I first take a look at his truck, with the coffin in back, and then return if I had any questions.

After taking a series of photos of the coffin in the back of the pick up truck I returned and asked a few questions. Saying that I saw two sets of boots - one black and the other brown, I asked what was the significance of each. He said the brown boots were Alex's boots during boot camp and the black ones had been his combat boots.

When asked if he had a website, Carlos responded People United for Peace which was founded by he and his wife, Melida, not only as a tribute Alex and his buddies but whose mission also includes:

* Sharing the knowledge that we have gained through pain and loss in order to assist others in not losing their loved one to war.

* Sharing knowledge on immigration and how non-documented workers are purposefully recruited by both US corporations and the US military

* Uniting families to end violence: Gold Star families (lost family member to war), Blue Star families (have family member at war), families who have lost a lost a loved one or had a loved one injured by street violence and the families of those incarcerated

* Sharing our experiences with elected officials and other policy makers globally

I would, again, encounter Carlos on the GW Memorial Bridge during Saturday's March on the Pentagon. During which time I would take a series of photos of him pulling his son's coffin while in the process of several interviews. Unfortunately, I accidently delated an entire series of photos that I thought I had downloaded to my portable hard drive but did not realize until after I had subsequently deleted those particular photos that, due to cold weather, the hard drive battery had expired and therefore the download did not take place.

So, a large number of images taken of the March across the GW Bridge were deleted, including those of Carlos Arredondo escorting his son's coffin.

My hope was to submit the images of Carlos marching across the GW Bridge onto the Pentagon with his son's coffin to Rosie O'Donnell's March 17 Rally Photos flickr group along with a brief write-up suggesting that she arrange for an interview of Carlos and Melida Arredondo on The View.

However, I believe my Carlos Arredondo's undying tribute to son Cpl Alex Arredondo photoset in conjunction with information posted to People United for Peace will more than suffice.

While Alex's "coffin" may symbolize undying love for his son, Camp Alex represents a undying tribute not only to Alex and his buddies but to all US soilders of the US led war Iraq.

1 comment:

FloridaMom said...

Hi, Thanks for talking with Carlos. I'm his neighbor here in South Florida. The day he blew up the van changed me. I never knew Alex but all that I've heard since ~ he was a great kid. Always laughing, always making jokes. He is misses so much by his family and even those who didn't know him. Carlos is a wonderful man with a very big heart. There isn't anything he wouldn't do for his family.

Because Carlos goes around the country sharing Alex with everyone, keeping him alive - Mel, his wife, has the job of getting their bills paid at home which is sometimes very hard for her. They don't have a lot but share so much with all of us. It would be nice if they were rewarded for what they do.

What a great idea to get them on The View! When Carlos burned himself he had to go to two hospitals for treatment. They didn't have health insurance. I tried to help get his medical bills paid. In doing so I contacted Oprah. I never heard back from her. I'm sure Rosie will help keep Alex alive. Oprah didn't care.

Thanks again for telling Carlos, Melida, Alex and Brian's story.

May PEACE be INSIDE all of us,