My Name

Having an unusual name has made life somewhat difficult. My first name is Amilcar. I was born in Mexico and even in Mexico Amilcar is a rare name. In the Unites States, the name Amilcar not heard of. Every time I have to introduce myself to someone new, I end up having to repeat my name several times, spell it out, and answer questions. My name has been pronounced in every possible way and I grew tired of hearing my name butchered. When I joined the military at age twenty-one I wanted a job that required Top Security Clearance, but do that I had to be a U.S. citizen first. When I applied for citizenship, I had the opportunity to change my name legally. I seriously considered changing my name, and thought of several, but decided to keep my name when I remembered a story my great-grandfather told me.

My name is Amilcar. My great-grandparents gave me my name. I am not certain what it means for sure, but I think it means "Last warrior or Lonely warrior". I am Hispanic and I have Mayan blood, in my veins.

My great-grandparents were born in a small village near Tipec, in the Yucatan peninsula. They were Mayan and the Spanish language was their second language. I hope you understand the story you are about to read. My great-grandfather had a very close friend. They grew up together and they experienced many things together. They had good times and they had bad times. They laughed and they cried together. They grew-up and married girls from their village according to Mayan tradition. Indians did not go elsewhere to find a bride.

Times were not good in Mexico a storm was brewing. A couple of years later my great-grandfather and his best friend found themselves in middle, of a revolution. They became revolutionaries and joined a group of fighting men lead by Emiliano Zapata, a Mayan Indian, who later became their general. I think the year was 1910. Mexican Federal Forces had acquired the reputation of being brutal and unmerciful. Wives and children accompanied many of Emiliano Zapata's men (revolutionaries). These men were peasants and were very poor so their wives and children had nowhere to go; therefore, they stayed with their husbands and fathers and followed them were ever they went. Many of the women fought, in the front lines. They came to be known as Las Soldaderas meaning women soldiers. These women fought valiantly and many died with their brothers, their fathers, and their sons. Emiliano Zapata's forces engaged the enemy in many battles, but there was one battle that hunted my great-grandfather’s soul until the day he died.

One day, Mexican Federal forces caught Emiliano Zapata's main force by surprise. Zapata and his army had walked into an ambush. The battle that raged was fierce and intense. A much greater army had managed to surprise and ambush Zapata's forces. Emiliano Zapata and his captains desperately began to organize their men to put up a fight. The fighting was horrid and bloody. They fought with every ounce of strength within their being. Zapata’s forces managed to hold their ground and where able to prevent the enemy's army from cutting they off and surrounding them. Young, hungry, tired, and frightened my great-grandfather fought as he had never fought before. Not only was he fighting to stay alive, he fought to keep his wife and infant child alive. He yelled and screamed, with fear and anger, as he emptied his rife at the enemy. As soon as his rife was empty, my great-grandmother would hand him another. She lay at his feet reloading rifles as fast as she could with her baby at her side. During the battle, she heard children screaming and crying. The older children, the ones strong enough to carry ammunition boxes helped pass ammunition, to their fathers and mothers. Other children took the guns, from their dead parents, and continued the fight. At times, the fighting was hand-to-hand. They hacked at each other with axes, machetes, and sabers. If hell could be described, that battle would have been it. Zapata's army began to retreat onto the mountains. They had to retreat quickly to prevent any further loss of lives. The lives lost in the battle had been very high, on both sides. The Revolutionaries had to leave their wounded and dead begin, without giving them proper burial.

Many had to leave behind their fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, and child. As they retreated, they could hear the agony of the wounded and the dying. The air was filled with the stench of burnt gunpowder and blood. Sometime during the battle my great-grandparent's young son died.

Sickness, starvation, dieses, or battle wounds, I was never told how the baby died. The child was still a baby and great-grandmother did not have the heart to leave her dead child behind, so retreaded into the mountains carrying her dead son, in her arms.

For two days, Zapata's army retreated, and finally they came to a place where they could rest and attend to their wounded. My great-grandmother still carried her dead son in her arms. At camp, my great-grandfather looked for his best friend. The last time he had seen him was the night before the battle. He wondered if his friend had been one of the hundreds, of dead or wounded, felt behind two days ago. As he walked searching, for his friend, he began to realize how costly the battle had been. He would never see many faces again. He found his friend lying near a tree and around him were his wife and children. At first, my great-grandfather was overwhelmed with joy, to see his best friend alive. As he approached him, he saw his friend ghastly wounds and his condition looked critical. He knelt by his best side. His friend noticed his, tried to focus his eyes, and strained to see who had knelt by him.

"Soy yo, tu cuate", “It is me, your pal,” my great-grandfather told him. The dying man managed to crack a smile. He asked my great-grandfather for a favor. My great-grandfather told him all he had to do was to ask. His friend reached out, with his trembling hand, and took hold of this wife's hand. She was crying because she knew that her man would soon die.

"My friend, this is a good woman; find her a good man. I will leave this life soon. Please take care of my wife and children because I cannot do it anymore." The dying man told my great-grandfather.

My great-grandfather understood and told his friend that as long as God gave him life he would. Then my great-grandfather asked his dying friend for a favor.

"What can I do? I am a dead man. I have nothing to offer you, not even my life." His friend said.

"My friend, I lost my boy a couple of days ago. I don’t want him to be alone. I know you will soon leave this life and journey, to face God. Will you keep my boy company? Will you take him by the hand when you go, to face God?" His friend smiled told my great-grandfather he would. Sometime during the night, his friend died and the next morning just before they buried him my great-grandmother walked up to the grave and handed her dead son to my great-grandfather. My great-grandfather gently placed his baby son in the arms of his best friend; he covered them with a blanket and buried them, together.

Years later, I came to be. I was just a young boy when I heard of my great-grandfather's best friend. I asked him. Who was he? He said that in the eyes of the enemy, he was a giant, but in the eyes, of his friends he was even greater. He was a man, of valor, as he had never known. He was not just a man; he was a real man. He was my friend.

I pondered the words that my great-grandfather had spoken, and then I asked him what his name was. He looked at me and smiled "Amilcar".