Framework

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It's a bittersweet day for Rachel Santiago as she looks at a photograph of her son, Army Spc. Ryan Hizon, in his bedroom in Glassell Park. He was killed by an improvised explosive device Feb. 28 in Afghanistan. On this day his parents will be sworn in as U.S. citizens.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Rodolfo Hizon Jr. looks at a few of the medals earned by his son while serving in Afghanistan.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

A gold star hangs at the home of the family of Army Spc. Ryan Hizon in Glassell Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Ryan Hizon's death devastated his tight-knit family, which had immigrated to Los Angeles from Manila in search of a better life. At the Quiet Cannon Country Club in Montebello, the mood lightened when Rodolfo Hizon Jr. and Rachel Santiago met with Master Sergeant A.G. Todd, casualty assistant officer for the California Army National Guard, before they were sworn in as U.S. citizens.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Rachel Santiago and Rodolfo Hizon Jr. are sworn in as U.S. citizens at a ceremony at the Quiet Cannon Country Club in Montebello. Their son, Ryan Hizon, was killed Feb. 28 in Afghanistan. His parents are taking part in a program that allows the families of soldiers killed in action to quickly become citizens.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Army Spc. Ryan Hizon's favorite restaurant was the Mayflower Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown. Members of his family and Master Sergeant A.G. Todd, casualty assistant officer for the California Army National Guard, gathered for lunch there to remember him. His parents were sworn in as citizens at an immigration ceremony earlier in the day.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

After the immigration ceremony and lunch, the family drove to Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale, where they visited the grave of Ryan Hizon. His father, Rodolfo Hizon Jr., bent down to tap the grave twice. Then it was Rachel Santiago's turn. Every time Ryan Hizon would leave the house, his father would touch him.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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Son’s legacy is U.S. citizenship for his parents

Ryan Hizon, 22, was recently killed in Afghanistan. A Los Angeles resident since his teens, he wasn’t a U.S. citizen, nor were his parents. But under a program that allows the families of soldiers killed in action to quickly become citizens, his parents were given a final gift from their son.

Read Kurt Streeter’s column

1 Comment

  1. August 8, 2011, 10:04 pm

    Kudos to the LA Times for putting a humanistic face and soul to ordinary stories of newly American immigrants, who are often numbered as the countless nameless and faceless people.

    By: madad@gail.com

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