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Coming All the Way Home PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez   
Thursday, 28 February 2013 08:00

After 68 years, Pvt. Lewis Alvarez has "come all the way home." His family with members of the American Legion gathered at the Mausoleum at The San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills on Sunday, Feb. 24, to unveil his marker and hold a local ceremony. It was a surprise for Mary Jimenez and her two other sisters, who had traveled to Riverside National Cemetery on Feb. 11 for a memorial ceremony for their brother that in the end, was made possible by President Barack Obama.

For decades the Pacoima family hit bureaucratic walls and was led to believe that because Pvt. Alvarez was classified as "Missing in Action" and there wasn't a body recovered, he could not have a military ceremony. But, after a local veteran's supporter, Marleen Martinez Apaicio recently contacted the White House, the fallen 19-year-old was finally given the last honor bestowed to those who've served.

The ceremony at the national veteran's cemetery was held on the anniversary of his death, the same day when his ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1945.

During the ceremony the Alvarez family expressed their gratitude and described the service as being "fit for a general," and said that they would now have a spot to place flowers. Still, Martinez Aparicio understood that for the remaining sisters – now elderly with one now in her 90s – traveling to Riverside would be difficult for them.

She donated the niche and arranged for the local "Burial Squad," a small group of veterans, who served during WWII, to conduct the ceremony at the local cemetery where many of the family's members are buried.

"I could not wait for my friend Mary to see this, said Martinez Aparicio, who planned the local ceremony. When I saw the spot, there is a beautiful statue of Mary holding her son Jesus. After so many years that the family has carried this sorrow, it's now as if it is working out like it should."

Mary Jimenez was joyful and said that it was difficult to describe the relief that the ceremonies have brought her. "I wish my mother could have been here to see this," she said. "His memory has never been forgotten," said family member, Alice Hernandez Acuna during the ceremony.

"Pvt. Lewis Alvarez is finally coming home, coming home to be near his father and mother Rafael and Esther Alvarez, his brothers sisters and other family members. His spirit will always be in our hearts and minds. He was only 19-yearsold and was a proud American and laid down his life so that the next generation could live in peace and in freedom."

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 February 2013 08:02