Mi abuelita: a true American hero

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rolando Gudiel
  • 95th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
Those who are close to me personally know that I take great pride in the uniform that I wear. It is difficult to imagine doing anything else right now. 

However, I know that many heroes made sacrifices in their lives to give me the right and honor to wear this uniform. With Hispanic heritage in mind, there is one special hero that I owe a great amount of gratitude to: my abuelita Rosalba. 

My grandmother is not your typical hero. She is not an imposing figure. At a height of about 4'10", she makes me feel like "the Hulk." She cannot fly, shoot webs, nor has the ability to leap over tall buildings in a single bound. Although, she can make Spanish rice that puts even the best restaurants to shame. However, she does have two things that all heroes have in common: courage and the unwillingness to quit. 

It takes true bravery to go to a new country and earn the right to live a good life. Anything short of courage would result in failure for anyone venturing into a place where the culture and language is different. It takes even more courage to go to a place where one's presence is not exactly welcomed. My grandmother was indeed brave enough to cross into the unknown. 

Nearly 40 years ago, my grandmother did just that. With my grandfather, my abuelita came to "el norte," a common phrase in Latin America that means the U.S., with one mission. There is usually only one reason why anyone would ever abandon their homeland and that is simply to survive. However, it takes much more than just courage to survive in a new world, it also takes perseverance. 

As time went on, things became bleak for my grandmother, her marriage and her family. My grandfather eventually fled back to Mexico due to the overwhelming obstacles that were before him. My abuelita, however, refused to go back. No matter how bad things seemed at the time, she had the big picture in mind and her seven children in her heart. 

She worked long hours working in a factory for minimum wage to support her children. When things began to fall apart, the children looked to their mother for support and strength. Eventually, my abuelita's children grew up and had children of their own. But it was through her unwillingness to surrender and retreat that an American family was born. 

As a child, I used to think her ways of doing things were a bit silly. However, as an adult, whenever I look into her eyes I realize that she is more than just my abuelita; she is my hero. If it were not for her courage and never-say-die attitude, I would not have the great honor of serving alongside my fellow Airmen. 

I will pursue my dreams relentlessly until they become reality. I owe my grandmother that much. We all owe it to those who came before us to ensure their sacrifices were not in vain. 

Above all else, because of her, I realized no one is born a true American. That title must be earned. It is the belief in justice, freedom and the pursuit of happiness that makes an American a true American. It matters not where we came from because we are all the descendants of heroes who refused to surrender in the face of adversity and that is what makes our nation so great.