Oscar Muñoz, 56, didn’t get the word about wearing white at last week’s pro-immigration rally in downtown Phoenix.
Instead, he wore a black Vietnam veteran T-shirt and a U.S. Marine Corps cap from his service in the Vietnam War.
The Mesa High School graduate marched in memory of his father — an illegal immigrant who feared deportation while his son served the United States overseas. Muñoz said his father died about 10 years ago without gaining citizenship.
“He was just a real humble migrant worker,” Muñoz said. “But he taught us we could be anything we wanted to be.”
Muñoz, who now lives in Levine and works as a real estate agent, said many soldiers serving in the war against terror also are children of illegal immigrants.
“It would be terrible for them to come home and find their parents deported,” he said.
Muñoz’ attire — and the red Marine flag he waved — caused him to stand out from the crowd of more than 100,000. A CNN reporter interviewed him, and many friends and relatives saw him on television.
One friend who called to tease Muñoz about the interview was Raymond Ruiz of Heber, who served with Muñoz in Vietnam.
“I hadn’t seen him in years,” Muñoz said. “Never did I think my one minute of fame would bring me in contact with an old lost friend.”
Muñoz said he ranks his participation in the rally only behind his service in Vietnam in terms of significance.
“The memories will be in my life forever,” he said.