Brian Arredondo was 17 when his 20 year-old brother, Alex, a U.S. Marine, was killed in Iraq on 25 August, 2004—he was 24 this past Monday, 19 December, when he took his own life.
Recall that Carlos Arredondo, the father of Alex and Brian, his only children, was so distraught when the Marines came to tell him that his oldest son was killed, he caught their van and himself on fire, burning over 26% of his body. His recovery from his physical wounds was long and difficult, but his emotional wounds from having his son killed by the U.S. government in its illegal and immoral war in Iraq will never completely heal. However, I know since my son, Casey, was killed in Iraq only four months before Alex, that Carlos was beginning to be able to get through his days without overwhelming pain before his other son committed suicide.
Carlos, and his wife, Melida (stepmother to the boys) are part of our Camp Casey family and the wider peace movement. Carlos credits Camp Casey with giving him his “voice” to be able to speak for Alex and against the war that took his life. When we held our Camp Casey gatherings, Carlos would always be there with his rolling monument to his son, Alex, and he would often be the first one to get up in the morning and the last one to go to bed—he was always working and there for me when I needed a bottle of water, a plate of food, or a hug. However, Carlos could always take a break to talk to a visitor to make him/her feel welcome, and share his son’s story.
Carlos and Melida are wonderful people who have sacrificed much for peace—and even though I wouldn’t wish this kind of pain on anybody—they did not deserve to bury even one son, let alone two.
When I spoke to the Arredondos on the phone today, Carlos told me that Brian, “suffered so much,” from the death of his brother, and it’s so sad that siblings are often forgotten in the heartache of loss. Brian’s suffering has now ended, but his family’s and other loved ones has just begun. It’s often said that what doesn’t kill a person makes him/her “stronger,” and although that saying is annoying, it’s true. I know Carlos and Melida have incredible strength and I have found depths of strength that I never knew I had since I have a daily survival struggle from the tragic death of my son. Sadly, Brian could never fully recover and was recently told by mental health professionals that “nothing was wrong” with him—he tragically fell through the cracks as so many in our dispassionate society often do.
Besides the fact that I adore the Arredondos and know about the struggle they have had with Brian over the years, this terrible news highlights the glaring truth that, even though wars may end (and I dispute that the war on Iraq has even ended), for some people, the tragedy and pain never will be over.
I am profoundly sorry for the pain of our losses, but war does terrible things to people. It doesn’t matter if a person supports war, or doesn’t, it’s undeniable that war causes everlasting pain and irreparable damage.
The President and Vice President of the U.S. may be celebrating the “end” of the Iraq War, but on Monday, December 19, 2011, that war of choice for profit claimed another innocent victim: handsome, sensitive, and compassionate, beautiful soul, Brian Arredondo.
How many more will suffer? The country of Iraq is spoiled with depleted uranium and babies are being born with birth defects and children are dying from leukemia and other war-related illnesses every day, still. How many years will it take the Iraqi people to recover from the decades’ long devastation the U.S. has caused?
How many of our veterans will commit suicide, or die from long, painful deaths from DU poisoning, emotional scars, or other wounds?
Wars never truly end, so the best thing to do is never allow them to begin in the first place.
If the reader is in a position to do so, please send a donation to Brian’s memorial fund to help cover the funeral expenses.
Send donations to:
Brian Arredondo Memorial Fund, at
The Cooperative Bank
40 Belgrade Avenue
Roslindale, MA 02131
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Time: 4:00pm until 9:00pm
Mann and Rodgers Funeral Home
44 Perkins Street, Jamaica Plain,
Brian’s Funeral Mass
Weds, December 28th
Time: 12noon to 2pm
St Thomas Aquinas Parish