Except for the time he spent fighting in the Philippines, Tony Lopez, a World War II veteran, has never left the United States. According to the Denver Post, that was supposed to change on February 16th, when a combat reunion will be held in the Philippines to mark the 65th anniversary of the Battle for the Recapture of Corregidor, which Mr. Lopez participated in.
Mr. Lopez, who was awarded both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service, was supposed to “raise the colors” in the ceremony, but when he applied for a new passport, he was turned down. The reason? His birth certificate wasn’t issued within a year of his birth. According to an earlier article from the Denver Post, he was born in a very small town in New Mexico, and getting a copy of his birth certificate was a challenge:
“The Catholic church burned down, and all the records were lost,” he said. “In 1990, my brother and I traced our baptismal records to Santa Fe. The state took those and gave us our birth certificates based on that.”
Unfortunately, since Mr. Lopez applied with normal processing, he didn’t find out about the problem until 6 weeks later, when his wife got her new passport back and he got a rejection letter from the Department of State.
This is another illustration of how easily problems can arise when current requirements for documentation are applied to people who were born in times and places where strict-recordkeeping wasn’t the norm. It’s also another good reason to expedite your passport application even if you think you have plenty of time.
Sen. Michael Bennet was able to get a one-year temporary passport for Mr. Lopez, but it didn’t reach him soon enough for him to make the necessary arrangements. Fortunately, he will get a second chance:
“It’s all right. There’s another reunion on March 3, the anniversary of MacArthur accepting the island back from the Japanese,” he said. “Maybe I can get to that one.”
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