Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Omar Mora laid to rest

Army Sgt. Omar Mora was eulogized in Texas City Saturday in a funeral Mass atttended by hundreds of people who were urged to be more like him.

"Omar was generous and kind, very dedicated and focused, and went about doing what needed to be done," said the Rev. Thomas Ponzini, of St. Mary of the Miraculous Medal Catholic Church. "I encourage you to incorporate just one of Omar's beautiful qualities into your life. When you incorporate that love in your life, Omar lives through you."

A native of Ecuador, Mora moved to Texas City as a 2-year-old, graduated from La Marque High and attended St. Mary for several years and taught courses there. The 28-year-old, who leaves behind a wife and 5-year-old daughter, became a U.S. citizen in November.

Mora enlisted in 2004 to fight terrorism and had been assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He and six other soldiers died in a vehicle accident in Baghdad Sept. 10. Mora was expected home this fall after completing his second tour in Iraq.

In August, Mora and six other soldiers, one of whom died with Mora in the accident, wrote an opinion piece questioning whether the war in Iraq could be won militarily and asserted that U.S. presence "may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect." The final statement in the article, which ran in the New York Times Aug. 19 and the Houston Chronicle Aug. 26, reads, "As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through."

The service was a patriot's farewell, with dozens of veterans holding giant flags that silhouetted the walkway into the church, a white stucco, mission-like structure topped by two small crosses, with palm trees out front.

At the bilingual funeral Mass, attended by at least 500 people — perhaps half of whom wore the likes of American flag ties or vests or T-shirts with Mora's photograph — filled the pews and stood along chapel walls. Mora's casket, topped with a white cloth, was blessed with holy water. A woman sang soothingly in Spanish, accompanied by guitars.

A childhood friend recalled playful times when the two sneaked out of their homes to buy Popsicles, and how Mora stood up to bullies. He also read a letter written by one of Mora's cousins in Ecuador, who urged visitors to find loved ones with whom they'd lost contact. Visitors applauded.

Brigadier Gen. Keith M. Huber, in English and Spanish, said Maro's family should be proud their loved one "protected the innocent" and tried to make the world a better place. He then walked to the front pew and kissed the cheek of Maro's mother, Olga, and wife, Christa.

Mora was honored with the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service.

From the Houston Chronicle

Related Link:
Omar Mora reported killed in Iraq