Immigrants’ final trip home

Edwin Lara’s circuitous final journey began in Denver’s Funeraria Latina, then went by air to his home country of El Salvador, and finally he was driven on a road past a volcanic lake — nearly a month after he died — to the village where he was born.

“He always wanted to go back,” his sister, Cecelia, said at a visitation. “It was his dream to save money and then be with his children in El Salvador.”

Journeys such as this are increasingly common as the families of immigrants in Colorado, and throughout the United States, arrange for deceased loved ones to be transported back home. It’s a reverse migration of sorts that requires a new body-shipping dimension in the multibillion-dollar business of caring for the dead.

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Russian-bomber flights alarm NORAD

Frequent flying by Russian strategic bombers near American airspace — drawing U.S. fighter jets — has military officials at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs on guard and angling for greater openness and cooperation. While odds are low that these increasing Russian forays will cause a catastrophe, “there’s more of a risk of something accidental happening,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said Monday after meeting here with homeland defense commanders.

“We will clearly watch this evolution,” Mullen said of the Russian flights — not detected in such numbers since the Cold War. “We’ve got good military-to-military relations with the Russians. My sense is there’s no strategic intent to threaten the United States.”

To prevent problems, the Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defense and Northern commands initiated joint exercises with Russian counterparts here and in Alaska — a return to Cold War-era efforts to manage tensions.

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Battlefield to boxing ring

Soldier trains for his shot to compete in Beijing Games

By any measure, Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Downs would appear a long shot to join the U.S. Olympic Boxing team at the Summer Games in Beijing. He’s 33, the oldest on record for the team, a father of two and, until the Iraq war began, he had never entered a boxing ring. On top of all that, he first had to survive 13 months in combat to get where he is now. Saturday, Downs leaves for a fight in Trinidad and Tobago that could qualify him for China. Regardless of whether he makes it, Downs will resume his Army infantry duties when he’s finished with his Olympic effort.

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