Piestewas Visit Phoenix Elementary
Parents share thoughts on their late daughter
by Betty Reid 
The Arizona Republic 
11 November 2003

PHOENIX - Spc. Lori Piestewa's parents received thunderous applause Monday when they told a group of 300 south Phoenix youngsters that their daughter had Hispanic roots.

Terry and Priscilla Piestewa, whose daughter was killed in March when her Army unit was ambushed in Iraq, visited Ignacio G. Conchos Elementary School in the Roosevelt School District to celebrate Native American heritage month. Lori's children, Brandon Whiterock, 5, and Carla Piestewa, 3, joined their grandparents, who answered questions about Hopi culture and their famous daughter.

Terry Piestewa said he is sharing memories of his daughter because she "belongs to the country." Speaking about Lori's legacy also helps them cope with the grief, he said.

The Piestewas say their grandchildren often ask about their mother.

"This little one saw her mom's picture on the computer one day and she said, 'Grandma, my mom has been in heaven too long, it's time for her to come home,' " Priscilla said. "I said, 'You know, sweetie, God needs your mommy more than we do now. She's up there taking care of us.' "

The visit came a day after NBC aired a made-for-television movie about the capture and rescue of Jessica Lynch, Lori's best friend.

The Tuba City couple said the movie, Saving Jessica Lynch, was in good taste.

"If it was close to what the military told us, what happened in the ambush, it would have been emotional. But it wasn't," said Terry, a Vietnam veteran.

The Piestewas plan to attend memorial services at Steele Indian Park today atthe governor's Veterans Day event.

Lori's parents told the Conchos students that their daughter was athletic, enjoyed math and graduated from high school a semester early.

Priscilla, who is Hispanic, grew up in Tuba City but lived with her cousins for a year in the Valley.

"I'm proud Lori is Hispanic because that's my culture," said Anthony Altamirano, 12, a sixth-grader.

The family was invited to Conchos by Sylvia Gonzalez-Vera, the attendance clerk at the school and Priscilla's cousin.

"It creates a coming together, the Hispanic and Native American coming together as one," Gonzalez-Vera said. "I think it's beautiful."


Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html