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   xoxoxoBruce  Saturday Jul 19 12:36 PM

July 20, 2008: Good News

I got this in an email and had to check out some of the 170,000 Google hits for Rudy Thomas Sr.
Turns out the story is true... heroism, heartbreak, frustrating bureaucracy, and a happy ending.



The email;

Quote:
With his combat medals on his chest, Vietnam War hero Rudy Thomas Sr., takes citizenship oath Wednesday at Brooklyn Federal Courthouse.


This disabled Vietnam veteran paratrooper with three Purple Hearts is no longer a man without a country.

Wednesday, 40 years after limping home from Vietnam, Rudy Thomas, 64, a Trinidadian immigrant, took the Oath of Citizenship in the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse.
Now he is an official American hero.

'For the last 40 years I thought of myself as a proud American,' Thomas was saying yesterday, waiting in the large courtroom on the 2nd floor with 250 new citizenship applicants from 40 countries to be sworn in by Federal Judge Nina Gershon.

'I came home. My discharge papers said I was an American citizen. For the past 30 years I worked as a counselor at the State Department of Veteran's Affairs. My first American-born son, Rudy Jr., became a New York City police officer. He was shot dead on the Fourth of July in 1993...'

When you fight in the uniform of the U.S. Army's Airborne and stain the soil of a foreign land with your blood and then lose a police officer son in the war back home you kinda think you've earned a place setting at the American table.

'When I was in Vietnam the only thing I ever thought about was going home,' he said. 'Home to me was not Trinidad, which I left when my grandparents brought me here when I was a little boy. Home was Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.'

And typical All-American Brooklynite that he is, Rudy Thomas saluted the flag as he buried his son, and got on with his heartbroken American life.
He sired two more, named Rudolph Pierre III, 13, and Isaiah, 10, and worked and paid taxes and never traveled anywhere outside of America again.

'A few years ago my grandfather died and I applied for my first passport to go back to Trinidad for the funeral,' he says, tapping his spit-shined shoes and adjusting his combat vest covered in battle medals.
'That day a clerk at the passport office told me that I was an illegal alien, that I was not a citizen of the U.S.A. I was crushed. Told him it was a mistake. That the Army told me back before they sent me to Vietnam the first time that the military had naturalized me as a citizen, allowing me to fight in a foreign war. I showed him my discharge papers that said I was a citizen...'

His passport was denied. He was the only member of his family unable to attend his grandfather's funeral. Rudy Thomas, with his three Purple Hearts earned in defense of an ungrateful nation, was marked down as an illegal.

Already walking with a limp from his war wounds, and officially disabled with post traumatic stress disorder, Thomas began the slow, agonizing battle with the federal bureaucracy, trying to win back his dignity in the skittery paranoia of post-9/11 America.

Everywhere he turned he was stung by friendly fire.
'It was like a third tour of 'Nam,' he says. 'First I fought for my country. Now I was fighting with my country.'

Thomas, part of a New York Vietnam Veteran's Exhibit still running at the Brooklyn Historical Society, reached out to organizer Phil Napoli, a history professor at Brooklyn College. Napoli suggested Thomas contact this reporter. When he did. Rudy Thomas told his story in this space on June 5.
By 10 a.m. that day Sen. Chuck Schumer's office took up Rudy Thomas's cause and expedited a clear path through the bureaucratic jungle to yesterday's swearing in.

'I want to thank Professor Napoli and the Daily News and Senator Schumer who got me here today,' Thomas said yesterday.
'There was a point when I was starting to give up hope. I was afraid I was going to be deported by the country I fought for. I could hardly sleep last night in fear that I wouldn't be here on time this morning.'

But here he was in the courtroom yesterday, sitting with Napoli, and fellow 173 Airborne Vietnam vet Lucian Vecchio, himself a federal administrative judge, and Rudy's two proud sons sitting across the room when Judge Gershon climbed the steps to the bench.

Everyone in the room rose.

'Welcome new citizens,' Judge Gershon said. 'This is a very happy day for all the families here today. But first I want to say we do have a military veteran taking the oath today.' She motioned for a startled Rudy Thomas to stand, which he did with the help of his cane. 'Mr. Rudy Thomas was awarded three Purple Hearts in his service in Vietnam and today we are delighted to welcome you to citizenship and we thank you for your service.'

A tear escaped down Rudy Thomas's face as the entire room of newly minted American citizens exploded in applause.

'I wish my son Rudy were here for this,' Thomas said.
'Believe me, he is,' said fellow vet Vecchio, giving him a comrade-in-arms hug.

'A grown man isn't supposed to cry,' said Thomas, wiping his eyes.
'If you've been to 'Nam he does,' said Vecchio.

THEN the ceremony was over, he was given his certificate of naturalization #30435522 and he was surrounded by friends and family, and other beaming new Americans lining up to shake his hand.

And then Rudy Thomas went home with his kids, at long last an official American hero.
I like happy endings


newtimer  Saturday Jul 19 01:44 PM

The bastards. I'll bet this man worked and paid his taxes all those decades and they happily took his money with no problem.



xoxoxoBruce  Saturday Jul 19 01:56 PM

True, but remember this is a screw up in the red tape of the federal bureaucracy.
For all this time, even though he was not a citizen in the government's files, at no time was he prevented from making a living, or enjoying the freedom's and benefits of being one.



Stress Puppy  Saturday Jul 19 02:51 PM

Until he was denied a passport to attend his grandfather's funeral.



spudcon  Saturday Jul 19 02:59 PM

Unlike my brother in law's brother, who died in Viet Nam, and our government wouldn't grant him citizenship posthumously.



Gravdigr  Saturday Jul 19 05:46 PM

I'm grateful for his service and all, but he looks like Easy Reader from The Electric Company...or maybe a pimp.



sweetwater  Saturday Jul 19 06:38 PM

They can put a man on the moon but red tape is still slowing down things on Earth.



Imigo Jones  Saturday Jul 19 06:59 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gravdigr View Post
I'm grateful for his service and all, but he looks like Easy Reader from The Electric Company...or maybe a pimp.
GD, Morgan Freeman's face a little, but when Freeman played Easy Reader, he usually had a huge afro and wore fancy threads.
"Pimp" in that pic not at all. Especially not with those Purple Hearts. Oh, except what, he's black?
Quote:
A tear escaped down Rudy Thomas's face as the entire room of newly minted American citizens exploded in applause.

'I wish my son Rudy were here for this,' Thomas said.
'Believe me, he is,' said fellow vet Vecchio, giving him a comrade-in-arms hug.
Good for Mr. Thomas!
Quote:
'For the last 40 years I thought of myself as a proud American,' Thomas was saying yesterday.
Reading a statement worded like this, I can't help but think a certain potential First Lady would benefit from knowing Rudy.


TheMercenary  Saturday Jul 19 08:41 PM

Beautiful story, happy ending.



skysidhe  Saturday Jul 19 08:47 PM

Another positive note! yay for mr. Rudy



Gravdigr  Tuesday Jul 22 05:09 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imigo Jones View Post
GD, Morgan Freeman's face a little, but when Freeman played Easy Reader, he usually had a huge afro and wore fancy threads.
"Pimp" in that pic not at all. Especially not with those Purple Hearts. Oh, except what, he's black?
1. I don't know what Electric Company you watched, but the Easy Reader I remember never had a 'huge afro', and didn't wear fancy threads. He wore worn out jeans and a vest with lots of patches on it.
2. I HIGHLY RESENT YOU IMPLYING THAT I AM A RACIST. ("Oh, except what, he's black?")
3. Did you read the first five words of my post, or did you skip on down to where you found something you could cry about?

I am thankful to anyone and everyone who served in Viet Nam, but perhaps for a selfish reason. Because any one of those who went, may have been the reason my father (who was in the US Army at the time) didn't have to go. And I will forever be thankful for that.

BTW, your name "Imigo Jones"? Yeah, that sounds kinda pimpish...Maybe you should drop "Imigo" and go with "velvet". Yeah, Velvet Jones. Has a ring to it, no?


Sundae  Tuesday Jul 22 07:24 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gravdigr View Post
BTW, your name "Imigo Jones"? Yeah, that sounds kinda pimpish...Maybe you should drop "Imigo" and go with "velvet". Yeah, Velvet Jones. Has a ring to it, no?
Wow, you really do see pimps everywhere don't you?
Is it because Imigo's black?

BTW Imigo I always meant to ask when you changed the n to an m.
Is it a pimp thing then?

Jesus Jones would be better imo. But I guess that's a bit too 90s.


Cicero  Tuesday Jul 22 09:48 PM

Had he never gotten, or applied for a social security number? I wonder....Did they give him licenses to drive? I really don't get all of this.

Confusing.



xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Jul 22 11:16 PM

I'm sure the military gave him a SS number, and you don't have to show proof of citizenship to get a drivers licence. Of course living in NYC, he may not have had a need for one.

When he was discharged from the military he should have been given citizenship, but somebody dropped the ball and it didn't get done on paper. Hell, he's been working for the government for the last 30 years.



Imigo Jones  Wednesday Jul 23 12:45 AM

Gravdigr, let's see whether we can resolve some of these issues without more hostility. I get the feeling that you might be going after me in the "Super Sucker" thread, too, though I haven't opened it--just saw your name as most recent poster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gravdigr View Post
1. I don't know what Electric Company you watched, but the Easy Reader I remember never had a 'huge afro', and didn't wear fancy threads. He wore worn out jeans and a vest with lots of patches on it.


How I remember Easy Reader.
If he later had the look you describe, particularly a vest full of patches, then I'm sorry to have missed the association you were making.
Quote:
2. I HIGHLY RESENT YOU IMPLYING THAT I AM A RACIST. ("Oh, except what, he's black?")
Capital letters present and accounted for.
Okay, then, GD, you'll have to explain your "he looks like . . . a pimp" comment to me. I had said I got the Morgan Freeman face (actually, Rudy's much older looking than Easy Reader-era Freeman), but why add that Rudy looks like a pimp? I'm not entirely implying you're a racist, but I am questioning what possible reason there could be for equating Rudy with a pimp. In your indignation, you have sailed past the first opportunity to answer the question.
Quote:
3. Did you read the first five words of my post, or did you skip on down to where you found something you could cry about?
Of course I read every word of your post. Those first 5-7 words don't seem to have any bearing on the "pimp" remark.
Quote:
BTW, your name "Imigo Jones"? Yeah, that sounds kinda pimpish...Maybe you should drop "Imigo" and go with "velvet". Yeah, Velvet Jones. Has a ring to it, no?
I've never pimped, in the traditional sense. Name calling--I guess you feel you're on a roll with these tenuous associations. But I don't feel you're justified in being so upset, sorry.

BTW, GD: Sundae Girl gets the name thing. (SG, maybe I'll reply more to your post later.) But now I'm off to open that other thread. Fun awaits.


xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Jul 23 03:10 AM

Hmmm, earring, 4 necklaces, bracelet, flashy belt buckle, outlandish clothes... yeah, pimp works.



glatt  Wednesday Jul 23 09:00 AM

You are both right.

Easy Reader wore jeans and a vest.

But Morgan Freeman played another character on Electric Company named Mel Mounds the DJ, and he dressed like a pimp. The picture above in post #15 is Mel Mounds, not Easy Reader.



Undertoad  Wednesday Jul 23 10:05 AM

omg http://www.lifelounge.com/Easy-Reader.aspx



Griff  Wednesday Jul 23 10:35 AM

That is just plain nuts. Today that would be rated R though because it was implied that she smoked. btw- nsfw



Gravdigr  Monday Jul 28 07:09 PM

Oh, thank God!! I wish we could see context and spirit of comment in these posts. So much confusion could be avoided. Imigo, when I read ~'what, because he's black', all I heard in my head was Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson jumping on me because I said 'pimp'. "He looks like a pimp" was intended solely as a humorous comment on his slight resemblance of Easy Reader (and his (Rudy's) slight resemblance to a pimp). The comment about your username was just a dig at you in response to the dig at me that I may be racist. Apologies and all that. And if you didn't get the whole Velvet Jones thing (I also sometimes forget we all aren't in the U.S.), he was an Eddie Murphy character from Saturday Night Live. He was a pimp trying to get into a straight line of work, as seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZVnve5wG0A . Again, no animosity intended, just a chuckle.



Gravdigr  Monday Jul 28 07:12 PM

Also: I apparently blocked Mel Mounds from my mind. I have no recollection of him at all.



Sundae  Tuesday Jul 29 05:47 AM

I certainly wasn't being serious either Gravdigr.
Although I am still awaiting an explanation from Imigo re his name



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