by Gina Del Castillo
History Colorado is gathering and sharing memories that celebrate our state’s rich Hispano culture. Please send us your story! Here, Gina del Castillo, shares the sixth in our new monthly series produced exclusively with “The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.”
My Mom and Dad married at St. Cajetan’s Church in Denver, Colorado, where Mom was baptized and confirmed. Mom was a strong woman who raised five sons and two daughters—all making a mark in the impoverished southwest Denver community now known as Westwood. It wasn’t easy, but they did it. As the matriarch, Mom instilled the values of hard work, commitment to family and never-ending love for her children.
They met at a dance. Dad was in the Air Force, and Mom and her sister, Rosalie were on a girls’ night out just wanting to dance. My dad, Miguel, was all too ready to abide. They danced all night and in saying their farewells, my dad shouted, “That’s the woman I’m going to marry!” They did, a year later, just after Valentine’s Day.
Dad served his country, raised his children, worked hard driving a bus for Denver Pubic Schools (DPS), retired and paid his taxes. Fast forward, in 2003 he received a letter stating that if he didn’t authenticate his citizenship he would have to pay back any Social Security paid to him. This was a travesty. He sought legal counsel and followed the advice of the lawyer to the letter; he took the citizenship courses and passed.
On the day of the celebration, we waited patiently for his name to be called. As each new citizen collected their certificate, my dad was still waiting to be one of the honorees. He began to worry. As they were ending the ceremony, the emcee paused. He said that every once in a while there’s a special recognition given to a new citizen. They announced that my Dad, 70, was not only the oldest to receive his citizenship but was in the top one percent on the test. And, he said, “We want to thank Mr. Miguel Moreno for his service to our country.” The crowd applauded in unison with a standing ovation.
Gina Del Castillo is a Denver native and is the Executive Director for the Latina SafeHouse in Denver, CO.
Would you like to contribute to We Are Colorado? Send us your story about your Hispano-Colorado connection! Must be 250 words or less. Please include a picture, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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