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AT THIS WRITING THE United States is making preparations for a military intervention in the Middle East intended to defend our post-9/11 country against “weapons of mass destruction.” History—and these days “history” happens quickly—will ultimately judge the moral and material merits of the impending assault on Iraq. But when it does happen, for better or worse, we can be very sure that the Mexican American community will be very well represented within the American forces in this new war as they have been represented in U.S. armed forces from the Civil War (on both sides) through Afghanistan in 2001–2002. Undoubtedly, the most salient presence of Mexican Americans occurred in World War II (with Vietnam close behind), a saliency foregrounded not only by numbers but by the moral justification of our military expeditions in Europe and the Pacific, further underscored by the consistent valor and skill of Mexican American troops with FOREWORD 00-T2443-FM 12/9/02 3:16 PM Page xi J O S É E . L I M Ó N W A K E XII their ample Medal of Honor, Silver Star, and Navy Cross recipients. This valor, skill, and commitment also spoke to their overwhelming sense of U.S. citizenship and their loyalty to the fundamental beliefs of this country, including the idea that all men—and all women— were created equal and were indeed endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. And indeed many Mexican American women served as nurses and support personnel in the theatres of war. We now know a great deal about these men and women thanks to research such as that of Professor Maggie Rivas-Rodríguez and her Latino World War II Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin. Many patriotic and courageous Mexican American soldiers, sailors, and airmen presented arms (as we mexicanos would say) at Guadalcanal, the Kasserine Pass, Anzio, Midway, in the bombing raids on the oil fields of Ploesti, in the battle of the Atlantic, at Iwo Jima, in France, and in Germany itself. They included my three uncles—my grandmother’s three sons—at the Coral Sea, Attu, and Normandy respectively . The Mora family of Falfurrias, Texas, had six young men in the war, five of them in combat. (I know of no film called Saving Private Mora.) The predominant social background of these young men— limited education, working-class, Spanish-dominant—would almost guarantee combat duty rather than rear echelon assignments. After the war, some returned to Texas, California, Arizona, but also Chicago; those returning to New Mexico included individuals who had survived the Bataan death march. In these and other places they too often encountered still fortified strong points of racist resistance denying them full access to their civil rights as Americans but also to their full cultural dignity as citizens of Mexican culture. These new wounds—now inflicted by U.S. society—were made deeper by the knowledge that comrades with names such as González, Iturbide, García, Hinojosa, Carrizales, and Ruperto Araiza, my uncle, had been left behind, buried on land or at sea—some not buried at all—in Europe, the Atlantic, and the Pacific. Private Felix Longoria from Three Rivers, Texas, was initially left behind, killed in heroic action in the Philippines. The honor and task of telling his heroic tale has fallen to Professor Patrick Carroll of Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, and it has fallen into capable and supple hands. Carroll’s masterful retelling of Longoria’s role in the Philippines is part of the substance of this marvelous book. But Longoria ’s actions in the Pacific theatre are really only a small part, al00 -T2443-FM 12/9/02 3:16 PM Page xii F O R E W O R D XIII though a highly generative part, of Carroll’s scholarly and analytical narrative. Most of his story deals with other heroes after the war. He movingly tells us of heroic men but now also centrally women— and also of the more than occasional villains, as well as shades in between —and the heroic but conflicted efforts made to secure an appropriate wake and burial for this fallen infantryman when his remains were finally returned to the United States in 1947. In telling this highly readable and often engrossing story of individuals and groups of varying moral stature, Carroll also provides a large magnifying but also clarifying lens through which...


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Subject Headings

  • Texas -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • Mexican Americans -- Texas -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Longoria, Felix -- Death and burial.
  • Texas -- Politics and government -- 1951-.
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