Monday, November 24, 2008

What Should Have Been The Quotation Of The Day....

Sometimes the true "quotation of the day" isn't the obvious soundbite from the most celebrated speaker on page one, but a bit of truth buried deep inside the paper, from the person speaking most from the heart.

And so it was today. Instead of giving "quotation of the day" status to Michelle Obama for her comment about her friend Valerie Jarrett -- "She knows the buttons, the soft spots, the history, the context," Michelle Obama said -- The Times should have dug deeper, and awarded the distinction to a Mexican farm worker named Cirilo Perez-Torres.

The quote came at the tail end of a 1,265-word dispatch by Randal C. Archibold, a Times reporter based in Los Angeles who often covers immigration issues. It served as a touching coda to his takeout on the elderly "braceros," as Mexican migrant farm workers were once known, and a one-time government payment of back wages.

Archibold talked with several Mexican workers who had come to the Mexican consulate in Fresno in the hopes of leaving with a check, as part of the settlement of a long-simmering lawsuit Some succeeded, but others -- many over 80 years old -- left without the money, not having brought the proper paperwork. One of them, 86-year-old Cirilo Perez-Torres, had lost his papers in a flood, and with them the chance for a quick settlement.

Perez-Torres's quote provided the poignant kicker to this bittersweet story:

“I remember everything, the fields, the places, the crops,” he said afterward. “But they are not accepting my memories.”

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