Thoughts from Dr. Joe:Remembering Andrew Torres

This write is going to be a tough one. Attempting to reach perfection, one is often thwarted while trying to explain the spectrum of human emotion, hoping to move another to action. As a writer, either you do it or you don't.

These thoughts represent the deepest of human emotions and concern themselves with those values that are humanity's most precious gifts from the gods.

This is a story about 2nd Lieutenant Andrew Torres, U.S. Marine, who at 23 lost a tough fight to cancer. However, the real story is in the story and that's what I am trying to tell. Today I write about a mother's love, a father's devotion, enduring loyalty and friendship, remembering, keeping a promise, hope, service and love of country.

The simple cliché, "A mother's love," creates a mythology of thought. In the eyes of Anita Brenner Torres, Andrew's mom, I saw the power of a mother's love and as we spoke about her son she lovingly explained his life. The connections that she created to Andrew did not have a sense of finality but instead demonstrated that his memory is alive and well. As Anita spoke, she often clutched the necklace that Andrew gave her. It was the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, the symbol of the Marines.

A father's devotion is hardly definable. Leonard Torres, Andrew's dad, honors Andrew by his commitment to his son's memory through supporting the Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI). HMRI is an independent, non-profit, organization dedicated to improving health and prolonging life by enhancing knowledge of life processes and disease and by developing technology to diagnose and treat disease.

With piercing eyes set deep within a chiseled face, Leonard, a former Marine captain and part of one of the most elite units in our military, (forced recognizance) and who fought in some of the Corps' toughest fights in Vietnam, said that prior to Andrew's death his son asked him to become involved in finding a cure for cancer. Anita and Leonard promised to do so. I knew that as a Marine officer, Leonard understood the essence of a promise, a covenant between themselves and their son's memory. Thus, they established the "Andrew Torres Memorial Golf Tournament."

This year, the tournament is scheduled for Monday, 31 July. The "Memorial Classic" incorporates a day of golf, lunch, dinner at the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club, and various auctions.

Kipling speaks of the beauty of loyalty to another in his poem, "Thousandth Man." An extension of Andrew's life remains constant to those who remain loyal to his memory and to those who sustain his honor by their devotion to finding a cure through the 'HMRI.' Unselfishly, in the absence of a future himself, Andrew set this great enthusiasm in motion by his hope to minimize tragedy in the lives of those who would come after him.

Anita and Leonard in their description of their son consistently expressed his commitment to the service of others. In his waning days, Andrew was concerned about the welfare of the troops he commanded and of the local kids he volunteered to help. I think this tells us about the character of 2nd Lieutenant Torres.

After my chat with Anita and Leonard, I realized that friendship does not cease to exist when one friend dies. Many of Andrew's high school friends are very involved in the conduct of the "Memorial Golf Classic." Noelle Ito, Rishi Sahgal, Matt Linden, Geoff Chandler, Lawrence Park, Whitney Railsback, Bryan Stevens and others are of the new generation of devotees dedicated to finding a cure via HMRI and at the same time honoring the memory of their friend.

This dedication should not end with this loyal few. If we as a community and as nation are to continue toward any semblance of benevolence then it's essential that the enthusiasms for service be championed and infused by the zeal of youth. The example shown by Andrew's friends in their commitment to find a cure should remind us of John Kennedy's remarks, "Here on earth, God's work must truly be our own."

Sometimes it's hard to be a friend, but it's even harder to be a friend when that friend is no longer there.

Go online to www.andrewtorres.org or call (626) 792-3175 and make a donation. Or better yet, come to the dinner on 31 July and track me down. Let's have a drink to Lieutenant Torres.

My chat with Anita and Leonard ended and from them I again learned that in life, it's not what you say, it's what you do. Throughout the rest of the day I couldn't forget Anita clutching the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, Andrew's gift to his mom.

Write Joe Puglia via e-mail at captinjoey@yahoo.com or via the La Cañada Valley Sun, P.O. Box 38, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91012.



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