My dear friend, Pablo, send me the following story via Facebook while traveling with is family in Memphis, Tennessee. Pablo and his family are from Ecuador.
I thought you might find this interesting: My father just told me about a relative of his, William Burnham, who apparently stowed away on a boat from Ecuador and into the US as an illegal immigrant. During World War II he enlisted in the army after Pearl Harbor, and was sent off to fight--though my father can't recall where exactly he was stationed. He received a serious injury, but while injured he was able to carry one of his squad mates on his shoulder (said squad mate had been seriously injured as well and was in worse shape) all the way to safety. For that he was awarded what my father calls a "medal for valor" (medalla al valor) which I can only assume means a Purple Heart. During the awarding of the medal it was discovered that he was not, in fact, a legal US citizen and he was given the opportunity to become one. He eventually married, as my father recalls, a detective from a police department (I think it was Long Beach, but my father doesn't quite recall) and lived out their lives in California.
Purple Hearts are awarded to those who have been killed or injured while serving in the US Armed Forces, but it sounds like Pablo's relative more likely received some other sort of distinguished service medal. Either way, how awesome is it that we live in a country where those who have only recently arrived and are not even considered citizens, are willing to fight and die for the principles and freedoms this country was founded on?