On the day he died, Rafael Peralta was 25 years old, a Mexican immigrant from San Diego who had enlisted in the Marines as soon as he became a legal resident. He earned his citizenship while on active duty and re-upped in 2004. He was a Marine to the core, so meticulous that when Alpha Company was training in Kuwait, he would send his camouflage uniform out to be pressed.Go'head. Read more.
He was no less passionate about his adopted country: His bedroom wall was adorned with a picture of his boot camp graduation and replicas of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. ''Be proud of being an American," he wrote to his kid brother Ricardo, 14. ''Our father came to this country and became a citizen because it was the right place for our family to be." It was the first letter he ever wrote to Ricardo -- and the last. It arrived in San Diego the day after he died.
Jeff Jacoby: Death of a Marine