Army Staff Sgt. Edwin Rivera
Died May 25, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
28, of Waterford, Conn.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment, Connecticut National Guard, Norwalk, Conn.; died May 25 at National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., of wounds sustained May 20 when his unit was attacked by enemy forces using indirect fire at Contingency Outpost Xio Haq, Afghanistan.
(The following was taken from dailyme.com of June 6, 2010) Jun. 6--Lorenzo Rivera, 4 years old and dressed in a button-down shirt and slacks, probably had very little idea what he was watching and hearing Saturday.
At 4, he probably knew only that it was hot and that he was being told to sit as quietly as possible. And that his mommy and his grandparents and all of these people -- hundreds, if he could count that high -- were sadder than he had maybe ever seen them.
But at 4 years old, even if you're sitting in front of your father's flag-draped coffin, you fidget.
So Lorenzo Rivera squirmed just a little bit Saturday, moving from the front row to the back at Jordan Cemetery in Waterford more than two hours into services for his father, Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Edwin Rivera.
Several hundred people came out to pay tribute to Rivera, 28, who died May 25 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., from injuries sustained during fighting in Afghanistan. He had been wounded by indirect fire on May 20 in eastern Afghanistan.
At Camp Rell in Niantic Saturday morning, the words spoken at Rivera's funeral were as much for Lorenzo and his older brother, Rolando, as they were for his father, a Puerto Rican who gave his life for America, and the hope that Rivera's death would lead, in time, to a United States devoid of discrimination, where a man or woman would not be judged by their last name.
"Is it worth it?" Bishop Jeremiah Torres, pastor of the House of Restoration Church in Hartford, had asked about Rivera's death during a funeral service that encompassed two buildings -- a main building and an overflow room with a video feed -- at Camp Rell. "We must make it worth it."
Rivera's funeral service was conducted in both English and Spanish, a study in the changing America that Torres spoke of: an American flag draping the coffin of a soldier who walked between two worlds.
A man like Edwin Rivera, the bishop said, faced a dilemma. "In America, he's seen as a Puerto Rican," he said. "In Puerto Rico, he's seen as an American. But he embraced (both). ... He believed in this country and he was willing to pay the ultimate price."
Rivera, who worked at the Millstone Power Station in Waterford, is survived by his wife, Yesenia, and his two children, as well as his parents, Ceferino and Gladys Rivera of Waterford, and two sisters, Naomi and Miriam Rivera.
The Rivera family has suffered unspeakable tragedy the past two weeks. The soldier's twin nieces died just after their births on May 21 and 22, and their funerals were held at Jordan Cemetery just nine days before the family returned there for Edwin's service.
Saturday morning, members of the Patriot Guard Riders lined the entrance to Nett Hall, standing at attention with American flags on either side of the sidewalk. An overflow room at the adjacent Niantic Readiness Center held about 400 more who watched a simulcast of the service.
The service lasted approximately an hour, followed by a 45-minute wait while the family remained inside the hall with the casket.
At the cemetery, Rivera was buried with full military honors, including a 21-gun salute, a flyover by four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and a bugler playing taps.