Today, as we take time to celebrate July 4, 2021, we must pay homage, on such an auspicious occasion, to those who keep the American Experiment alive: Our military, law enforcement, journalists, members of all institutions of government/civil society, and most importantly everyday citizens that step forward when needed. In these preceding years our country has been tested by internal strife, an erosion of trust, and a pandemic.
As it has never been in the past, it is not a forgone conclusion that we will overcome the present crisis. All patriots can do is defend our nation at moments of crisis. Having the honor of taking a military oath to our Constitution, I feel it appropriate to share a part of it: “I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;…” All patriots should envision their name in that blank space. That blank space is reserved for each of us.
As patriots did at the inception of our nation, that July 4th in Philadelphia, we are all called on to do our part to protect this union and work towards making it a ―more perfect place for all of us.
In the words of President Ronald Reagan:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
As we enjoy our holiday we should evaluate how we can be of service to perfecting our union and protecting our Constitution. History will not look kindly upon the generation that let’s freedom fade from this American Experiment.
Latinos have played an important role in the defense of this nation from its inception. Scholars Raoul Lowery Contreras and Frank D. Gomez gave us a list of some of the contributions made on the battlefield by
- Troops from Mexico, Cuba and Spain totaled 8,000 during the revolutionary war. This amount of troops equaled those of France and was in addition to the material support provided.
- More than 20,000 Hispanics served in the Civil War from private to general and admiral, and Hispanics have continued to distinguish themselves serving in America’s armed forces. The wartime honor roll includes:
- Boxer Rebellion — Marine Pvt. France Silva became the first Mexican-American to be awarded a Medal of Honor.
- World War I — Army Pvt. David B. Barkeley Cantu from Texas was awarded a Medal of Honor posthumously; the Army did not know he was Mexican-American until decades later. Army Private Marcelino Serna, born in Mexico and living illegally in the United States, was the first Mexican to earn the Distinguished Service Cross. He was also Texas’ most decorated veteran of the war.
- World War II – Seventeen Hispanics were awarded the Medal of Honor including the war’s second most decorated fighting man, Texan Cleto Rodriguez, the most decorated fighting Mexican-American ever. Two of those honored were actually Mexican citizens.
- Korean War – Fifteen Hispanics were awarded the Medal of Honor, including 10 Mexican-Americans and five Puerto Ricans.
- Vietnam — Twenty-two Hispanics, including four Puerto Ricans, three Mexican citizens and 15 Mexican-Americans were awarded the Medal of Honor.
Que Viva La Independencia!!