"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Henry Cejudo - an American Olympic Champion

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

Hooray for the United States. It is the land where Olympic dreams can happen if only you believe in yourself. We love to hear stories of young men and women who worked hard to achieve their dream of being an Olympic Champion.

Just look at the worldwide attention given to Olympic Gold Medal record holder Michael Phelps…and yes, every American was proud of his Olympic accomplishments.

As a nation, we should all salute the Olympic Gold Medal winner in men’s freestyle 55-kilogram wrestling. 21-year-old Henry Cejudo, who was 31st in last year’s world championships, kept faithful to his dream and at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in China, he won his Gold Medal and put on one of the best displays of American patriotism.

In fact, the son of undocumented Mexican immigrants, Cejudo was so proud of his wrestling feat, he wrapped himself in the American flag, burst out crying the moment he realized he had won the match and defeated Japan’s Tomohiro Matsunaga.

Some photographers who saw the picture of Henry Cejudo, crying and wrapped in the American flag, called it as one of the most memorable moments of the Olympics. A classic picture of an American athlete displaying his pride in victory, but much more cognizant of his victory because he knew he was representing his country.

We all have heard the story by now, of how he grew up in poverty, moving from town to town, as his mother looked for better jobs to take care of her family. Cejudo’s parents separated when he was only four years old and the burden of caring for the family fell to his mother, Nelly Rico. Cejudo says he will give the Gold Medal to his mother, for all the sacrifices she made to raise her six children.

Cejudo says they never had much in terms of material wealth, but his mother worked whatever job she could to provide all of them riches in love for one another. Moreover, when love was not enough, she made tamales so Cejudo could sell on the street and continue with his wrestling in school.

Cejudo was born in Los Angeles to undocumented parents who came to the United States seeking that elusive dream of a better life. There is no question that Henry Cejudo faced all the difficulties of children raised in undocumented families. Our antiqued immigration laws have made life unbearable difficult for so many families who only want a better life.

Cejudo worked hard to compete as a wrestler in high school, and took advantage of the opportunity to move to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado with his older brother Angel. His brother Angel was also a high school sports star.

Cejudo’s success story is one that we can all be proud of and remember as one of the most inspiring moments of the Beijing Olympics. It made me proud to see him wrapped in the American flag, proudly displaying his pride as an American hero.

Cejudo held on tightly to the American flag he wore as a cape and swore he would give to his mother. His mother could not go to China to watch her son compete in the Olympics. She could not obtain a visa to travel to China, so she will wait to celebrate her son’s new Gold Medal, a prize he said belonged to his mother as well.

Henry Cejudo’s story is one all Americans can celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of a young man who overcame obstacles in his life to finally reach his dream of being an Olympic champion.

However, wait one minute. Is it really a story all Americans could rally around? Not if you read some of the comments placed in the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC website.

The headline on their website should give you some idea of the comments, “Anchor Baby wins Gold for the US”.

As we all may know by now, an anchor baby is a child born in the USA of undocumented immigrants. The 14th Amendment to the USA Constitution grants citizenship to children born in the United States even if their parents are not citizens.

Here is a sampling of the nasty and hateful comments:

“An anchor baby is NOT a REAL American because his PARENTS are ILLEGALS!”

“Anyone else notice every time an anchor baby Olympian does good the media is all over it? The team is full of them. I doubt the anchor babies are more athletic than Americans, Mexicans aren't known for being athelic. The sheet number of them of them in our country is probably why we have so many on our olympic team.”

“He's winning in the Olympics while tens of thousands more illegals are robbing, killing and raping as members of gangs across the country. I will gladly take an Olympic loss and save an American's life any day. F the liberal media and what they are doing to destroy our country.”

“When anchor baby law is passed will his medal be taken away?”

“He should not be in America.”

“If anyone spots him in LaOpinion or another Hispanic rag holding a Mexico flag they need to strip his citizenship and gold medal.”

And one last comment from our good friends in the Democratic Party…the Party that says they want the Latino vote because they care for Latinos:

“Immigration reform should reflect a commitment to enforcement, not reward those who blatantly break the rules.” - Rep Dan Boren D-Ok

At least Cejudo had the right words to celebrate his American dream: “I’m living the American dream. The United States is the land of opportunity, and I’m so glad I can represent it.”

Henry Cejudo…you are truly an American Hero and we are proud of you!

Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries – Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

1 comment:

  1. It is disheartening to read such vicious comments about Henry Cejudo – they point to the larger unresolved immigration issues. Cejudo is a true American and Olympic champion.

    Cejudo’s achievement, in the midst of such difficult circumstances provides an appropriate and poignant opportunity to raise awareness concerning the injustices perpetuated by the broken immigration situation. For ex. – How is it possible for the US Olympic Team (with the backing and awareness of the US Dept. of Justice) to allow Cejudo to compete without ‘resolving’ [even temporarily] his mother’s visa situation so she could attend the games AND re-enter the country. Or the fact that Cejudo can do nothing to mend his mother’s immigration status even though he has won a gold medal. One wonders what it would take obtain an accommodation from the US Gov. –maybe if he was Romanian instead of Mexican and was in another sport..like say Gymnastics .. then maybe…