Posted online: November 16, 2004 12:53 AM
Print publication date: November 17, 2004

Dispatch/Argus Newspaper

What's in a name?

By Greg Aguilar, Metro East

Hispanic names have a tendency to be long, mainly because the mother's maiden name is attached to the father's last name.

This trend is starting to catch on in the United States --

Hillary Rodman-Clinton, Carey Nassano-Miller and Rebecca Romajn-Stamos.

My full name is Gregorio Miguel Aguilar-Aguilar III, or Greg for short. In grade school I found that most of my classmates could not say my name correctly, pronounced Gray-go-ree-oh with a rolling of the R.

I remember when my parents would take us out and I'd hear my father being called by many different names, like Goyo or Greg. I asked why that was, and he replied, "Mijo, it's all the same thing. Greg is what my friends from John Deere Foundry call me because it's easier to pronounce then Gregorio, and it is less formal.

"As for Goyo, it's the same thing, only in Spanish. My name is Gregorio and that's how I sign my name for business and your report cards, but it's all the same thing. Like your friend Mike, his name is Michael, or your Aunt Guillermina who goes by Mina."

After that, I started going by Greg in school for short. Many great leaders have gone by shorter names, such as former president William "Bill" Clinton, former New York City mayor Rudolph "Rudy" Giuliani, and East Moline Mayor Jose "Joe" Moreno.

Joe has been involved with local politics 12 years, has organized and been part of many local races, including the Quad Cities Marathon. A runner who has competed in 15 marathons, Joe is a positive Hispanic leader and role model.

I was amazed at how easy it was to reach and speak with him. He said it's the way he tries to be with everyone, because a good leader needs to be there for the people he serves.

Joe's parents immigrated from Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico to East Moline, searching for a better life for their family. They worked with their hands all their lives to offer a better life for Joe and his siblings.

Joe has lived his entire life in East Moline, as have his children. He's fluent in Spanish and said he's used his Spanish more in the past 3 years as mayor than at any other time.

In the past year, he's used local bilinguals to translate fliers in Spanish for those trying to learn English. Recently, a Spanish-language pamphlet on rules and regulations of yard maintenance was sent to Spanish-speaking residents.

Joe knows that not all immigrants are going to speak English right away as they adjust to life in the States, but he wants to help them until they better understand the language.

Joe first was elected to public office as an alderman in 1989. He ran for mayor after former mayor William "Bill" Ward decided not to seek re-election in 2001.

Mayor Moreno is a fine example of a Hispanic leader/citizen and regular Joe doing his part. We could learn a lot from this man. We all should find what we like and want out of life and use it as the fuel to take us to greater achievements in our lives.


Greg Aguilar's column will appear in this space the third Wednesday of each month. He is an East Moline resident and proud public servant.