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will mark the beginning of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month. That said, there’s no time like the present to further develop your appreciation of Hispanic culture. You can start by raising your own awareness of the contributions of Hispanic-Americans and immigrants in your own area, and then continue by reading up on the amazing lives of notable people of Hispanic descent and educating others in regards to what you’ve learned.
Not sure which person to start with? Allow us to recommend Hector P. Garcia
, one of Hispanic America’s brightest stars when it comes to activism, leadership, and advocacy. Here we’ll explore a few of the highlights of Garcia’s truly inspiring life.
Who Was Hector Garcia?
Hector Garcia (1914-1996) was many things over the course of his lifetime, but he is best known for the advocacy work he did on behalf of Hispanic-Americans everywhere. Garcia was someone who dedicated his life to the welfare of his fellow human beings. Not only was he a gifted physician and active humanitarian, but he was a World War II veteran as well.
Hector Garcia first emerged as a humanitarian and human rights activist just after he returned from WWII. He truly thought of medical care as a basic human right, and he provided medical assistance to citizens who could not afford treatment, as well as those who were denied it for other reasons.
He would go on to found the American G.I. Forum
in March of 1948. This was his response to the numerous discriminatory acts he’d not only experienced himself as an American of Mexican descent, but had seen happening to countless others as well. The Forum also provided a way for Garcia and his colleagues to urge Mexican American parents to keep their children in school.
Dr. Garcia was so dedicated to fighting for the rights of his people, that he’s often seen as Hispanic America’s version of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was not only a very highly respected leader in the eyes of those that crossed paths with him, but he was instrumental in a number of presidential campaigns as well. He would also eventually become the first Mexican American member of the United States Civil Rights Commission.
Garcia’s Lasting Influence
The American G.I. Forum, in particular, became a major force when it comes to the civil rights of Hispanics everywhere. This was especially the case once its reach began to expand and extend to each of the states. Garcia would eventually be formally recognized for his services to America when President Ronald Reagan presented him with the Medal of Freedom (the highest possible honor a civilian can receive).
The United States Treasury would further honor Garcia’s work when it came to public affairs, as well as veterans. A new savings bond series was issued that included Dr. Garcia’s likeness on the $75 bond. Garcia’s alliances with major political figures, as well as prominent civic leaders, would continue to help his peers and his country alike. For example, he was able to successfully mobilize voters and drum up Hispanic-American support for John F. Kennedy over the course of the 1960 election via the Viva Kennedy Clubs.
Saying that the Hispanic community benefited greatly thanks to the work of Dr. Garcia is quite the understatement. His passion for justice was instrumental when it came to providing job opportunities, promoting the importance of ongoing education, and improving housing conditions for the poor.
To this day, he is held in very high regard, not only by Hispanic America, but people everywhere, for his inspiring values, staggering humanity, and incredible communication skills.
Honoring Dr. Hector Garcia During Hispanic Heritage Month
You can honor the incredible contributions of Dr. Garcia this Hispanic Heritage Month by taking measures to promote the ideals he believed in. His philosophy was a simple but powerful one. He believed that every American should enjoy the same freedoms and have the same access to benefits as every other.
Consider donating some money or time to charities in your community that advocate for the rights of Hispanic Americans, veterans, and those in need. You can also lend your support to the American G.I. Forum in particular, which is still very much active today.
Last but certainly not least, you can make it a point to educate yourself and those around you in regards to the incredible accomplishments of Hector Garcia
. Then continue by educating yourself on the history of the Hispanic population
in regards to your own hometown and other areas of the United States.