WASHINGTON, D.C.-U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, announced June 26 that the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 1291, a resolution honoring the contributions of the American GI Forum on its 60th anniversary. Ortiz released the following statement:
"Madame Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 1291, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of one our country's most prominent veterans and civil rights organizations-the American GI Forum.
"Originally founded to assist Hispanic World War II veterans fight discrimination from the VA, the American GI Forum now advocates for numerous additional causes, including voting rights, job training, and better access to education.
"This resolution is special to me because it also commends the American GI Forum's founder, Dr. Hector P. Garcia, who hails from my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.
"Dr. Garcia, himself a distinguished veteran, was one of the early leaders of the Hispanic civil rights movement.
"Dr. Garcia served as an alternate ambassador to the United Nations in 1967, was appointed to the United States Commission on Civil Rights in 1968, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom-the nation's highest civilian honor-in 1984.
"Dr. Garcia grew up in South Texas and hitchhiked 30 miles a day to go to school. He enrolled into the University of Texas Medical School which accepted only one Mexican-American student per year.
"In addition to helping Hispanic veterans, Dr. Garcia also led the fight against ending discrimination against Hispanic students and brought attention to the poor conditions of migrant workers.
"From working with presidents on civil rights issues to providing medical services to those who couldn't pay, Dr. Garcia dedicated his life to bettering the lives of all.
"His legacy, through the American GI Forum, will always live on.
"I congratulate the members of the American GI Forum for all their work as a beacon of hope for all veterans and citizens aspiring to improve the lives of those in their community."