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The History of Arturo Reyes

When I was a child my mother and father encouraged me to watch the television. They always told me that the television was a good source of information about our country and what was happening. We never had the luxury of having extra books, newspapers or magazines to read. Us kids only read the books that were assigned in our school for the homework that was needed to be done. School was important to my family. Getting a high school education was a big accomplishment in Mexico.

My family and I grew up in a small rural town called Ecuanclureo, Mexico. It is sixty or seventy miles outside of Mexico City. My parents worked on a farm in the town I grew up in. My family consisted of two brothers and four sisters who all made it through high school also. I was very fortunate that I didn't have to work and neither did my brothers or sisters. My parents made enough money to put clothes on our back and food on our table. I wouldn't consider my family wealthy by any means but my parents did provide our basic needs all through my childhood.

After high school finished, that's when I made my trip over to the United States. My parents eventually followed once I was able to provide for the expensive trip over here. I ended up living in Schaumburg, IL, and started my very first job immediately. I wanted to make a better life for myself and my family back in Mexico. I felt very scared when I started to work because I was in a new country and I didn't know anyone. I started working at a restaurant called Chessie's in Barrington as a bus boy. I eventually worked my way up to being a server.
The owner decided to open a new restaurant in Palatine. He asked me to bartend and also wait tables. I began to receive a lot of respect from the owner and I felt very important. He eventually asked me to become a part of their management team.

I turned them down due to the fact that I now had a wife and a small child. The responsibilities would be too overwhelming and to see my child grow up was more important. I have seen many television programs of how fathers aren't ever home to see and play with their children. I didn't want that to happen to my family. I was determined to be the best father because when I was growing up my father worked many hours and I was usually in bed when he returned home.

The first recollection I have of experiencing something that impacted my life through television was when I was a young teenager. When I was thirteen years old I witnessed something so horrifying that changed my life forever. I really never thought about death or people dying because no one had died in my family.

In our town there was a factory that made explosives. They primarily made fireworks. One day when my brothers and I were walking home from school and we heard a big explosion. We quickly ran straight for the factory because we knew in our heart that it was the factory that had exploded. We could see the flames burning in the sky as we ran. There were people everywhere but crowding far enough away just to get a glimpse of what just happened.

My heart was racing so fast because I had friends whose family had worked in the factory. The smell of death was surrounding me and I felt very ill. The firemen tried so hard to put the fire out and to try and save as many people as possible. There was the feeling of panic everywhere. All I can remember is people screaming and crying because they had lost loved ones. The crew who was helping out that day kept finding body parts for example; limbs and fingers and peoples burnt bodies.

I cried for hours. As a matter of fact I cried for the next couple of days. My heart felt so much pain for the people who lost their lives that day. For weeks the news had the story running but I couldn't watch. It just reminded me of the dreadful tragedy that happened that afternoon. Memorial services were held for about two weeks after the accident. I remember my mother and father attending to the services of their friends. I just couldn't get the courage to go to any of them. That was the first time that I had felt the sadness of other people.

The next major incident that I was involved with didn't directly affect me but once again it was related to death. About fourteen years ago Mexico City had one of its worst earthquakes. You know, when the ground shakes so bad that you can feel it all the way into my town. The ground wasn't shaking that badly in my town but you could still feel some of the impact. The news did a great job of covering the story as best as they could.

The devastation it brought was remarkable. All the buildings in the business district were destroyed. Thousands of people's homes and farms were destroyed. The death toll was so unbearable once again watching the television made me sick. I couldn't believe that something that we as humans can't control could be so devastating. I started to wonder do they put anything on the news that wouldn't make me sick to my stomach.

Is death such an event that is worth announcing to the world? Even the television programs such as cartoons are becoming too violent. Sometimes I wonder if I should let my son even watch television at all because of all the death that is portrayed. The only thing that is ever on our television at home is soccer. That's the only way I know my children our watching something that has to do with our culture.

My parents now live in Illinois and rarely do they watch the local news. We watch the Spanish television stations, which I feel, are becoming too much to deal with. Now I spend a lot of time reading to my children so they don't have to witness the violence and death that I once saw on television.

Maybe my children won't be as afraid of death as I was because it seems more of a natural occurrence here in the states.

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