Life lessons… follow the leader!

By Lt. Col. Ralph Gracia
Guest Columnist

I dedicated this article edition to my dear brother Emilio “Frankie” Gracia who passed away last month. My five-year mission in New York and the sacrifice my family endured during the most important moments of my brother’s life have come to a bittersweet ending. I thank family and friends who follow me via the Al Dia Today Newspaper, as well as my cadets for presenting an American Flag honoring my brother and for being comforting during this hard time. The caring emails about Frankie were moving. As you can only imagine, it was a tough, difficult time. He is in peace and with us through his soul and spirit. I feel the presence of my family and friends, especially my father, Emilio, and brother Tony, around me always. As a dear friend of mine shared with me, “One day, we shall all be together again, and what a day and eternity of joy that will be for all of us.”

Below is the eulogy I shared with my New York City family and friends:

I share with my entire lovely family and friends the passing of my dearest brother, Frankie. The loss of Frankie, while difficult, I accept in the name of the Lord. Frankie is no longer suffering…and is in a better place. Frankie was an awesome human being. To have had him was a special gift. Frankie was so much of who I am, and how I act and feel; what joy I have had being a part of his journey. Frankie was always so proud of me and my family and never had a bad word to say about anyone. I learned so much from my big brother and I will miss him dearly. Rest in peace, dear brother Frankie. Give Dad and Tony a big kiss and hug for me. Love always, Rafi!

As I reflect now on my childhood with my youngest brother, Johnny, how much we enjoyed playing “Follow the Leader” with Frankie. He became my mentor and the leader from whom I learned at an early age the difference between right and wrong. The following quotation rings true to me today more than ever: “There’s no other love like the love for a brother. There’s no other love like the love from a brother.” -Astrid Alauda

Again, thank you to the Al Dia Today Newspaper for the opportunity to share the lovely journey I had with Frankie. May the Lord bless each of you.

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