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“That’s all it took,” Medina recalled, “and it made us eligible for citizenship.”
Historically, immigrants have been a regular presence in the U.S. military. They make up about 5 percent of the active duty force and about 20 percent of all Medal of Honor recipients.
“It was a lot easier during World War II for people like Joseph, who was born in another country, to become an American,” Klobuchar said. “It’s actually harder now for these two young high school students who simply want to join the military. They’re not allowed to.”
Medina spent three months in occupied Japan after the war and returned home to Minnesota, where he raised four children with his wife, who died more than a decade ago. According to his son Michael, who heads American Veterans-Mexican American Post No. 5 in St. Paul, Medina led a quiet, unobtrusive life.
“This is the most I’ve heard him talk,” said Michael Medina, watching his hard-of-hearing father in a wheelchair negotiating news camera crews under a bright blue, frigid winter morning sky down the hill from the U.S. Capitol.
“I want these young people to have the same opportunity I did,” the elder Medina told a Spanish language television reporter at the memorial. “I’m proud of what I did. I’m proud of my service.”
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