Kudos to our local elected officials and other responsible leaders for passing a declaration honoring the founder of the American GI Forum. The 80th Texas legislature approved the first official Texas holiday honoring a Hispanic U.S. citizen. It is not a mandatory day off, yet.
The timing coincides with the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The 19th becomes extra special because it is the first official Texas holiday for Dr. Hector P. Garcia.
This honor is justly deserved. Dr. Garcia left behind his legacy in civil rights by helping local Hispanic veterans who were deprived of educational benefits, medical treatments and adequate housing. This great leader was also an American champion for the poor and the needy. His home and medical office were in Corpus Christi and he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage we must speak the names of some of our local trailblazers: U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, music celebrity Johnny Canales, state Rep. Abel Herrero, County Commissioner Oscar Ortiz, Judge Hilda Tagle, Mayor Rodrigo Ramon, coach Pete Castro (all from Robstown); 2007 Creative Arts Emmy winner Steven J. Escobar; state Rep. Solomon Ortiz Jr.; state Rep. Juan Garcia; (from Corpus Christi); and retired Sen. Carlos Truan.
Other Hispanic trailblazers are Alex Rodriguez, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, comedians George Lopez, Freddie Prinze Jr., Gabriel Iglesias and Carlos Mencia, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, and too many others to mention.
Hispanics or Latinos are the most common reference points to identify a native Spanish speaker. Census bureau and other marketing gurus place the number of Hispanics at 41.3 million in the United States. We have nearly $600 billion in buying power. These statistics are attracting the giant marketing firms from Madison Avenue. This is political clout that can move mountains.
We share the Spanish language with its nuances and regional differences like any other language. We are Mexican-American, Cuban-American, Argentine-American, etc., but we are very loyal Americans who have served with honor in the many wars our country has survived. Our cultures are distinct, however, we have many similarities.
On another subject, I spoke to some of the leaders of the Robstown High School reunion. The classes of 1965 -1971 are celebrating together the first weekend next month.
I visited with Arturo and Hilda Salas and we shared the smiles of not being able to recognize the class members who live out of town.
One of the questions on their reunion questionnaire was: "Favorite memory of RHS." I quickly thought of the time coach told me (at 145 pounds) to take the football and run through my 240-pound buddy, first-string lineman Patrick Cabrera. I was a freshman at the time and I believed the coach that I could do it. The next thing I remember I was "Dancing with the Stars."
Strangely enough, Pat and I remained best friends for many years. My favorite song at the time was the Beatles' "Twist and Shout," which was what I did when I finally got up. That is when I realized football was not my game.
If you have not sent in your reunion form and need to contact the reunion crew, just send me an e-mail and I will get it to Arturo.