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Acosta: In honor of a friend, teammate, patriot

Hundreds turn out to honor soldier who died Saturday in Afghanistan

Posted: March 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Some of the hundreds of attendees wipe away tears as they lean against a wall of hand-written cards remembering Rudy A. Acosta at Thursday’s memorial.

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Against the backdrop of a house-sized American flag, among veterans arriving in the uniforms of previous battles, it was clear at his candlelight vigil that Specialist Rudy A. Acosta was a respected and admired soldier for his country.

More than 800 friends, relatives and members of his church, however, reminded all those who turned out at the Santa Clarita Baptist Church on Luther Drive in Canyon Country Thursday night that Acosta was also a respected and admired soldier for Christ.

Lois Cronin, who taught Acosta history at the Santa Clarita Christian School, described Acosta as, “a funny kid. He was a good friend. But, above all he was a good soldier, not just for the U.S. Army but for Christ.”

Acosta, a 19-year-old combat medic, died Saturday in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Acosta and Cpl. Donald R. Mickler Jr., 29, of Ohio, were allegedly shot with small-arms fire by an individual from a military security group, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Acosta served with the 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany. The private first class was posthumously promoted to the rank of specialist.

“Rudy loved his family, his church, his community, his teammates. ... he enlisted in the Army to serve our country, which he also loved deeply,” said Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita. “He now falls among the ranks of the greatest heroes in American history.”

Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar quoted from the Gettysburg Address in paying tribute to the “supreme sacrifice” Acosta made for his country.

“Abraham Lincoln attended a public gathering much like this one," Kellar said. "His profound words that day: ‘From these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’

“These words are as applicable today as they were then,” Kellar said. “This young man did not die in vain, and we shall be forever in his debt.”

Some of the people seated on either side of the stage where speakers stood in front of a smiling poster of Rudy Acosta, cried into their hands. 

Some were held closely by those beside them.

Gray-haired men and women stood next to kids seated, all listening to how one man among them touched them all so profoundly.

Matt Brown, academic dean of the Santa Clarita Christian School, reminded all in attendance to follow the example of Jesus Christ and the exemplary life Acosta led.


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