Roseville soldier's letter to family found months after funeral

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Rueben Lopez was a night stockman at Target in Roseville, a family man who enjoyed playing with his nieces and nephews and ?spaghetti Wednesdays? with his sisters. Coming from a family of service members, the 27-year-old Roseville resident joined the United States Army in August 2010, mostly because he wanted to do his part to serve his country, according to his family. ?His ultimate goal was to become a California Highway Patrol officer,? said his sister, Roseville resident Monica Palmer. ?He thought this experience would help him with that.? Private First Class Lopez was serving as an infantryman, traveling along a road near Nalgham, Afghanistan on Aug. 11, 2011 when his armored vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb, killing all five people aboard. Nearly two months after his funeral, his sisters drove out to Fort Drum, N.Y. to collect his belongs and bring them back to Roseville. While sifting through boxes, his mother noticed an envelope sticking out of a bag. Inside the envelope was a hand-written letter, a message to his family entitled, ?I want this to be read at my funeral.? The letter contained words which were meant to comfort his family should anything happen to him and not make it home. Disappointed that the letter was discovered months after Lopez?s funeral, his sisters quickly notified the rest of the family, who have since gathered several times to read the letter out loud. Having no idea the letter existed, Lopez?s surviving family said it gave them some comfort knowing he was fully aware of the danger he was confronting. ?For me, I know that letter helped a lot,? said his sister Kelly Lopez, also an Army soldier who served two tours in Iraq. ?That was kind of the closure and comfort that I personally needed, because I knew that he was OK with his decision to join.? Palmer agreed that the family felt a kind of relief, knowing that Rueben Lopez knew exactly what he was doing. ?He was prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice,? Palmer said. ?He just wanted to leave us with a little bit of comfort by leaving us the letter.? On May 30, just two days after the Memorial Day holiday, Lopez?s sisters will plant a ?peace pole? engraved with the words, ?May peace prevail on earth? in four different languages at Junction Elementary School. Palmer works at the school as a school psychologist. ?That?s where all his nieces and nephews will go to school,? Palmer said. Toby Lewis can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT. ---------- The letter from Lopez read as follows: I want this to be read at my funeral. 8 March 2011 I lived my life wanting to serve as something special, and I found it in the United States Army. With no regret, I joined the Army. I lived as a soldier and went to war without looking back. I am proud to say I left this world surrounded by the same soldiers that are fighting for right, we call freedom. According to God?s will, I lived my life to the fullest, and now I live on with Him. Do not cry or be sad for me, but celebrate with me. We die to live, not live and then die. Life on earth is not the end, but only a journey. Be free, live for good and not bad. Trust in Him, the One who gives us life, and you will be rewarded. For I did, and now I am at peace. My faith lives on, and may it live on through you. Look to the Lord for peace and comfort right now. My work on earth is done, and will see you when you live on?? I wrote this on Feb. 13, 2011 in case I don?t return from fighting for freedom. I know there may (be) a chance I may not return, and this was in my heart at the time, as I was preparing to go to war. I am at peace going to war because I have the courage, strength and presence of God in my heart. (signed), Rueben Lopez ------- Memorial Day events in Roseville: What: American Legion Roseville Memorial Day service When: 10:30 a.m., Monday Where: Roseville Community Cemetery, 421 Berry Street Info: What: The city of Roseville, Roseville Historical Society and Surewest Memorial Day service When: 2 p.m., Monday Where: World War II monument on Vernon Street, Downtown Roseville Info: (916) 773-3003