Two "Restrepos": Two American Heroes
Juan Sebástian Restrepo gave up his life heroically fighting in the US Army in Afghanistan in 2007. L. Felipe Restrepo, yet another Colombian-born naturalized U.S. Citizen, is here, living among us, in Philadelphia— a living hero AL DIA will celebrate on October the 10th.
Private First Class Juan “Doc” Restrepo died in the trenches of Afghanistan defending the American flag.
His bravery during combat in the Taliban-infested, barren and ruthless Korangal Valley, led his U.S. Army Platoon, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, to name their outpost in the battlefield simply “OP Restrepo”— and fight for it for a year, inspired by the fearlessness of their fallen comrade-in-arms. They defended it fiercely as if it were the most precious piece of American land, all of a sudden made sacred for them by Restrepo's blood on the ground.
Restrepo’s ultimate sacrifice for the nation was eulogized in a National Geographic film that won an Oscar nomination for best documentary in 2010.
When I got to see the film, I couldn’t help but think about Felipe—our Restrepo here in Philadelphia—also a Colombian-born naturalized U.S. citizen who, at that time, was about to begin in his new role as Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, before he was promoted to Judge of the influential U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.
Restrepo is a very common last name in South America, particularly in Colombia, the country from which these two naturalized U.S. citizens came from
Restrepo is a very common last name in South America, particularly in Colombia, the country from which these two naturalized U.S. citizens came from— from two different cities down there, from two unrelated families.
The commonality, however, wasn’t at all the casual coincidence of the last name, but something else way more important: their shared American experience.
That vital experience of stepping on American soil for the first time to start a new life, confronting exactly the same grueling challenges— and challenged, after we pull through, to go after the unimaginable.
Juan Sebástian ‘Doc’ Restrepo became in that exceptional journey a hero, an American hero.
L. Felipe Restrepo, a esteemed US Court of Appeals Judge today, and bound to be one day an ideal candidate to be U.S. Supreme Court Justice, is yet another one to me.
Philadelphia, September 15, 2018.
More information on AL DIA's Hispanic Heritage event on October the 10th can be found here. Secure your ticket TODAY. Space is LIMITED.