My Memorial Day Celebration

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by GaryAyala, May 28, 2012.

  1. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    This Memorial Day is the first Memorial Day since the death of my father, Ruben S. Ayala. Today I celebrate my father's life, it is not a happy day ... but a day to remember with memories worth celebrating.

    My father was a United States Marine. Joined the Corps shortly after December 7, 1941. He and my Uncle Marcy, (my mother's brother), both signed up together and fought together with the 1st Marine Division. Dad was in the first wave at Guadalcanal. My Uncle was severely wounded at Bougainville, one of two Marines only, out of his entire platoon, who survived an attack.

    268891244_PMTpi-XL.
    Dad and Mom on their wedding day. My Uncle Marcy is Dad's best man. (Not seen in this photo is the black bandage covering numerous bullet wounds on his arm and right side of his body.)

    World War II was a watershed for American prejudice. During Ruben Ayala’s youth, metro newspapers, like the LA Times and the New York Times, commonly referred to Latinos as “wetbacks”. The war changed that for Dad. The war tempered him. He went to fight in the South Pacific as a wetback Marine … he returned an American. He knew he earned all the rights in our Constitution, and by God, nobody will ever diminish or question his American-ship again.

    46834722_cF8KP-O-1.
    L-R: Senator Ruben Ayala, Granddaughter Sarah, wife Irene.

    Ruben Ayala was born with three strikes against him. He was a minority, he was born poor and he attended a segregated school. He was able to overcome all those strikes … and still managed to hit a homerun with his life. There are many Latinos who have been honored with schools. There are many elementary schools, some middle schools, but I believe Ayala High School is not only the first high school in this nation name after a Latino elected official, but also the only. Simply extraordinary.

    Dad did everything the hard way. Not because he was ignorant or stubborn, but because of those strikes ... because of wide spread discrimination, the hard way was his only way.

    Since his death, I've thought of Dad's attainments, but those individual milestones are not his legacy. Ruben Ayala’s true legacy is that he fought discrimination every single day of his 40+ years of public life … and won. Every few years there was a pitched battle against discrimination climaxing on election day … and every few years he would be victorious. He became the first modern California State Senator of Latino descent (a span of 80 years).

    He wore his citizenship proudly on his sleeve. I never traveled abroad with Dad … but I can see him in a foreign land … say Moscow … and those in his wake asking “Who was that?” … and the person next to them explaining “… that is Ruben Ayala, The American.”

    Ruben Ayala cut the path for all those that came behind him. It was not a merely a simple trail to the School Board … or a path to City Hall … Ruben Ayala blazed a super highway all the way to Sacramento. Interestingly enough, Ruben Ayala did not fight discrimination with rhetoric or dogma ... he did it his way … the hard way … he fought discrimination through example … his only weapon … the strength of his character. For that alone, we owe Ruben Ayala a debt of gratitude, regardless of our ethnic background, for making his patch of America color-blind and showing us the importance of judgment based upon honor and character.

    268878123_6vVDo-L.
    Dad: Bottom row second from left, the skinny second baseman.

    I salute you Dad and Uncle Marcy and I thank you for your service. I salute all veterans of all nations for serving our country and your country with dignity and honor.

    Gary Ayala

    PS- Uncle Marcy taught me photography, while in grade school I developed and printed at his house in a bathroom which would be temporarily converted into a darkroom.

    G
     
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  2. penfan2010

    penfan2010 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 12, 2010
    NJ, USA
    Gary - a very fitting tribute to your Dad. His accomplishments are absolutely amazing, and you are right to be proud of him and your uncle. I am from the Philippines and have a particular interest in WW2 Pacific campaigns; your dad and uncle were clearly involved in some of the fiercest battles of the entire war. Your Dad clearly continued to achieve great things after the war.

    On this Memorial Day, my family and I am grateful to him and everyone else who served.
     
  3. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Gary, I know it has to be a very hard day for you. Thanks for sharing this great tribute to your father, a touching post to remind us what this day is about.
     
  4. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    I'm pretty well traveled and often, in many different countries, older generation people will tell me that they are thankful for America ... that everything they own, from the shirts on their backs to the car in their garage to the skyscrapers in their cities, everything they have ... they have because of the Americans.

    They don't mean people like me, they mean our veterans, people like Dad and Uncle Marcy, all those who fought far away from their homes.

    Then and now, I really don't know what a proper response should be ... all I can say is ... Thank You.

    Gary
     
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  5. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    Thank you Amin.

    G
     
  6. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    Gary,
    Thanks for sharing this portion of your life.....

    I'm still active duty (22yrs & still going) & today, I reflected back on a time period when I was in Honor Guard. I performed many funerals during that time period & a few certain things still stand out in mind today.

    I salute you & your family & I understand completely where you're coming from with this post...
     
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  7. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    At my father's service, an honor guard and pall barers of local Chino Police (Dad was the first elected Mayor of Chino), San Bernardino Sheriff (Dad was the first Latino elected as a SB County Supervisor), State Police (Highway Patrol) and Marines.

    The Pall Barers at his burial were selected from his old platoon (youngsters from todays unit) and the 21 gun salute from his old division.

    Thank you and I appreciate that you do understand. (I thought you would relate.)

    Gary
     
  8. Thanks for sharing your story, Gary, and it's certainly one that while touched with sadness would be inspirational to many.

    Best wishes,
     
  9. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    Thanks Nic, the story is more about America than my father. And that is how Dad would have wanted it.

    G
     
  10. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    Gary,
    If you're ever in San Antonio, give me a holler....First round is on me...:smile:
     
  11. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    That would be very nice. Thanks.

    G