I was still a kid when I woke up one morning to find out one of my older brothers was gone. He had finished high school a few days before. Though I did not know, he had enlisted in the Army and had been preparing to leave. That morning he was on his way to Fort Benning in Georgia. Like tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans before him had done (and continue to do), he joined in search of a better life and opportunities.
My mother showed us a letter he had left. He said that he was very sorry, that he did not want to leave us but he had to go. He asked us to forgive him for not always being good, for being a troublemaker. He promised that he would return a changed man.