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Beyond the Latino World War II Hero

The Social and Political Legacy of a Generation

Edited by Maggie Rivas-Rodríguez and Emilio Zamora

Publication Year: 2009

An anthology of remarkable voices drawn from the U.S. Latino & Latina WW II Oral History Project, bringing to life the transformations they spurred.

Published by: University of Texas Press

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pp. ix-x

The dominant narratives of World War II seem determined to exclude the representation of Latinos and Latinas, as, for example, the 2007 documentary by Ken Burns. In the controversy surrounding that documentary, one of the editors of this volume...

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pp. xi-xiii

Numerous persons have assumed varied roles and responsibilities in the production of this book. The Latinos/as who left a legacy of service and sacrifice under the difficult circumstances of the World War II period deserve recognition. Their singular experiences provide...

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pp. 1-10

The war in Europe and the subsequent entry of the United States into the world conflagration set the country on a path to build what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called “the arsenal of democracy.” The United States managed to assemble the required...

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1. The Paradox of War: Mexican American Patriotism, Racism, and Memory

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pp. 11-20

One of the themes running through the more than six hundred interviews gathered by the U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin is that of struggle against poverty, discrimination, and the perception of Mexican...

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2. Embracing the Ether: The Use of Radio by the Latino World War II Generation

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pp. 21-38

During World War II, my father, Ramón Rivas, a young army private, eagerly volunteered for overnight guard duty when he was stationed in Dutch Harbor, in the Aleutian Island chain off the coast of Alaska. It wasn’t that he preferred solitude or that he relished the...

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3. "Now Get Back to Work": Mexican Americans and the Agricultural "Migrant Stream"

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pp. 39-62

As a child, Hank Cervantes was oblivious to the self-serving assessments by growers like R. G. Risser and William Croddy that portrayed Mexicans as inherently predisposed to agricultural labor and capable of little else. Born in Fresno, California, on 10 October 1923, Cervantes...

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4. The Latinas of World War II: From Familial Shelter to Expanding Horizons

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pp. 63-89

Women played a significant role in helping the United States win World War II. Approximately 350,000 females served in the military. Another 18.61 million worked at the home front, some 6.5 million of them newly employed because of the wartime labor shortage. They...

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5. Mexican Nationals in the U.S. Military: Diplomacy and Battlefield Sacrifice

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pp. 90-109

Two of Mexico’s best-known contributions to the war effort came from a squadron of air fighters that joined the Allied forces in the Pacific theater and more than 300,000 contract workers, or braceros, who worked in U.S. agriculture and the railroads. Lesser known...

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6. The Color of War: Puerto Rican Soldiers and Discrimination during World War II

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pp. 110-124

At the same time that the Allied victory over the Axis powers was being heralded as democracy’s triumph over human bondage, Puerto Rican soldiers in the U.S. armed forces were writing to leaders such as Luis Muñoz Marín, the president of the Puerto Rican Senate, with...

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7. God and War: The Impact of Combat upon Latino Soldiers' Religious Beliefs

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pp. 125-143

World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle’s adage, “There are no atheists in foxholes,” acknowledges soldiers’ entreaties to God while under the duress of battle and the threat of death. While the accuracy of Pyle’s comment is debatable, veterans’ narratives, army...

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8. Silent Wounds: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Latino World War II Veterans

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pp. 144-155

The participation of Latinos in military service during World War II had profound effects in many areas of their lives. Some had experiences that left indelible marks, not all of them positive. The men who served on the battlefield returned to their spouses, families...

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9. Mother's Legacy: Cultivating Chicana Consciousness during the War Years

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pp. 156-177

Women such as Aurora Orozco who became mothers following the Second World War edged away from the prescribed gender roles of their earlier years and those of their mothers, to raise children who became professionals, political activists, artists, and educators. These...


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pp. 179-218

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 219-239


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pp. 241-247

E-ISBN-13: 9780292793415
E-ISBN-10: 0292793413
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292721159
Print-ISBN-10: 0292721153

Page Count: 263
Illustrations: 40 b&w photos, 3 tables
Publication Year: 2009