From one veteran to others and to those soldiers currently serving our ARMED FORCES …
Thank you for serving our Country.
The National Tequila Party Movement is remembering our fallen heroes who made the greatest sacrifice of all (themselves) to spread freedoms we appreciate here in our Country. Veterans will shed tears for the fallen and look to our American flag with deep admiration. When we see tattered flags, we demand they be taken down and replaced with brilliant unworn flags instead. As we take time to reflect this weekend, perhaps we can slow time down for a moment to appreciate life and the living.
I want to especially remember Ira Hamilton Hayes who was a Pima Native American and an American Marine who was one of
the six men immortalized in the iconic photograph of the flag raising on Iwo Jima during World War II. Hayes was an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community in Sacaton, Arizona, and enlisted in the Marine Forces Reserve on August 24, 1942. On February 19, 1945, Hayes participated in the landing at Iwo Jima and fought in the subsequent battle for the island. On February 23, Hayes, together with fellow Marines Rene Gagnon, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, and Mike Strank, and Navy Corpsman John Bradley, raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi, an event photographed by Joe Rosenthal.
I also want to remember Hector P. Garcia who was the founder of the American GI Forum. In 1948, Dr. Hector P. Garcia was quarreling with the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas which refused to accept sick World War II veterans who were Latino. After this effort, Garcia founded the American G.I. Forum. The 500,000 Latinos who honorably served in World War II now had a leader in Garcia, and within months of inception, the American G.I. Forum was opening branches across the nation.
Garcia today remains a central figure of the Latino civil rights movement, due to his refusal to stand idle while Mexican Americans were being dehumanized in the post-World War II society. With Garcia at the helm, the American G.I. Forum called for the removal of poll taxes while simultaneously holding fund-raisers to help pay poll taxes to register more Mexican Americans to vote. García organized back-to-school drives for Mexican American children. He launched case after case against Texas school systems for being illegal, and won many of his efforts. He and others instigated court cases to sue for the right of Mexican Americans to serve on juries (winning one such case in the Supreme Court). While making him heroically revered among the Latino culture, these actions also made him the most hated man in Texas by discriminating parts of society. (The Border 1948 ((2004) 1948 American GI Forum. Retrieved June 13, 2010, from PBS History Timeline).
Hispanic Patriots continue to enlist and serve our military today. We volunteer because we have patriotic hearts and we love the United States of America. Several of us remember our grandfathers, uncles and/or ancestors who were drafted, and a great number of them spilled their blood to defend our country in a time of war. We honor them for that.
Although it seems that the media does not do enough to portray patriotic Hispanics and their contributions to American wars, let us not be dismayed. Instead, let us all remember great leaders in American history, and create a culture of unity. We must take on the mantle from Hispanic Veteran leaders such as Dr. Hector P. Garcia as we continue to see “Operation Wetback” programs rear it’s ugly head in the form of SB 1070.
We must fight the good fight in countering the people who demonize Hispanics, and we do it by reminding the public of Latino Veteran contributions to our country. We counter isolationists by reminding the public of the economic contributions given by Hispanics, but most importantly, we remind the public that “All Men Are Created Equal”.
We must help our fellow brothers and sisters by getting them to be more politically involved. We must take control of our own destinies and change what we can change while praying to our Creator for the things beyond our control.
We must organize fundraisers or drives for our future Hispanic American children and give them incentives for achieving the Honor Roll in school. We have to help each other. This is our fight. We cannot depend on the President, political leaders, and even some church leaders. All of this comes from sheer will, drive and relationship building with one another.