Mother of fallen San Benito soldier remembers 9/11
Thu, 08 Sep 2011 04:06:43 GMT —
Every year around this time, Mary Ann Castillo's heart breaks as she remembers the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
Her son Juan G. Garza Junior was just in high school at the time, but had already expressed interest in joining the Marines.
"He said mom I when I get bigger I want to be a marine, I want to fight."
Mary Ann was not supportive of her son's military ambitions, but Juan was adamant that he was going to fight for what was right especially after watching the destruction that occurred on 9-11.
"It motivated him even more and he wanted to go through with it.
In 2003, the 21 year old his mother affectionately called "boy" was patrolling an airport as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad, when he was shot and killed.
"My other kids said mom sit down. I asked them what happened and they said Boy was killed. I didn TMt know what to do. I ran away crying. I wanted to go to Iraq and get my son, but I didn TMt know what to do."
As the nation prepares to honor the victims of 9-11, Mary Ann remembers how that day changed the course of her son's life and hers.
"Why did it have to happen? I think to myself, if that didn TMt happen, he would be here with us right now. He would be 28 years old.
Juan is buried in Michigan and Mary Ann isn TMt financially able to travel to visit his gravesite so she placed a headstone right outside her home in San Benito.
In the middle of the memorial to Juan is a flag pole which stands without a flag on this day after vandals repeatedly burned the rope holding it up.
Mary Ann says a new flag will be flying soon to show everyone who drives down what's been named Pfc. Juan G. Garza Jr. road, that her son died for what that flag stands for.
"I will never forget that day."