Thank You/Tony Santiago
One day, I asked myself, "Who are we, as Puerto Ricans? What contributions have we made to society?" That's when I decided to become a writer.
When I was growing up in some of the rougher parts of New York City, the history books usually failed to mention Hispanic people. Because of that, children like me lacked role models and heroes, or a sense of our own history.
Wikipedia has provided me with a tool to help. Actually, it was my son who first got me interested in Wikipedia; I helped him on a few articles, and then I started writing my own. To date, I've authored more than 600 articles on Puerto Rican statesmen, religious leaders, political activists, business people, visual artists, military figures, inventors and more.
When I was younger, I used to wonder with my friends why some of us Boricua had Irish and Italian last names. It didn’t make sense. Then I did some research and I found out about immigration in the 19th century to Puerto Rico, so I shared that knowledge on Wikipedia.
One of my articles has been viewed more than 14,000 times in the past 30 days. When I think about the hundreds and thousands of people reading and learning, it makes me proud of my work on Wikipedia. I feel like I'm making a difference.
I hear from people, too. I've received so many letters from students and college professors. I've been consulted for documentaries. I was recognized in a speech by Luis Fortuño, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico before the United States Congress (now the governor of Puerto Rico). I even met a former president of the United States! It’s just me in front of the computer — think about that! But to be honest, I write for the love of it. For the love of my people, and for the love of writing.
On Wikipedia, you've got to present a balanced view in your article. You can't be biased, and you can only use reliable sources. Wikipedia helps people get to the truth of things.
I can appreciate this. I'm a father, and a grandfather. I hope Wikipedia will give my children and grandchildren a chance to use what they've learned, and to make this world a better one.
Antonio Santiago now lives in Phoenix, Arizona. He and his wife have three children and four grandchildren. He served in the US Marine Corps from 1969 to 1971, and in the reserves until 1975; his service earned him the nickname “Tony the Marine,” and inspired his writings on soldiers and military history. He also writes for El Boricua and Somos Primos, monthly cultural magazines.
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