Saturday, May 18, 2024

Guest Blogger Series: Salomón Baldenegro “Mexican American History: A Patriotic History”

In Tea Party Republican Arizona, teaching Mexican American history is illegal because that history is purportedly “un-American” and foments the “overthrow of the government.”

The shamelessness of people who rally under the Confederate flag—a flag of treason, whose adherents renounced their U.S. citizenship, declared war on our country, and actually tried to overthrow our government!—claiming our history is “un-American” is breathtaking.

Let’s look at a few instructive snippets from scholars regarding this “subversive,” “un-American” history:

Carole Christian documents how during WW I Mexican Americans enlisted in great numbers, urged on by Spanish-language newspapers that reported the “courage and sacrifice, sometimes of their lives,” of these soldiers.

Raúl Morín describes the immense contributions and bravery of Mexican Americans during World War II and inKorea. One chapter details how “Company E, the All-Chicano Company,” whose members won many medals for bravery, was instrumental in winning several major battles.

John Culhane writes of the courageous WW II-Korea exploits of 57 Mexican American young men who lived onSecond Street(“Hero Street”) inSilvis,Illinois, many of whom lost their lives and were awarded medals for bravery. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, this constituted “…the largest number of servicemen from the same ethnic group to come from any area of comparable size during these conflicts.”

Ricardo Santillán’s “Rosita the Riveter” describes the contributions of Mexican American women who operated the factories, manufacturing ammunition and other war materiel during WW II.

Christine Marín wrote about the Asociación de Madres y Esposas (Association of Mothers and Wives) who developed a network of “VictoryGardens” so that the country’s harvest could go to feed the troops, sold war bonds, collected and sold scrap metal, and picked cotton, donating the proceeds to the WW II war effort.

Ralph Guzmán memorialized how Mexican Americans from southwestern states were 19.4% of Vietnam War fatalities but comprised only 10% of the population in those states.

Proportionately, Mexican Americans surpass all other ethnic groups with respect to the number of Congressional Medals of Honor earned for valor in combat.

After WW II, these patriotic men and women encountered “No Mexicans Allowed” signs in public places. Robert Oppenheimer describes a typical incident of a Mexican American WW II veteran, in his medal-decorated uniform, who was refused service in a restaurant. “White” cemeteries refused to bury Mexican American veterans.

Compare the decency of these patriots to the racism they faced: In Silvis, the home of Hero Street, Mexican American WW II veterans were not allowed to join the whites-only VFW chapter, but when the “white” VFW building was later razed and the members had no place to meet, the Mexican American chapter welcomed the displaced members to their chapter.

It is a perversion and a libel of monumental proportions to categorize the history detailed above—and similar historical dynamics regarding the immense economic, labor, cultural, political, educational, social, civil-rights, etc., contributions of Mexican Americans to our country—as “illegal” and “un-American.” Especially by people who rally under the treasonous Confederate flag.


  1. Alberto Cardona says

    We all remember our first sweetheart as the most beautiful woman on earth. How romantic…I saw my first sweetheart a few months ago and I blessed the Virgin Mary for not having married her. My goodness… The Confederate Flag “adoration” is also a romantic aberration. To indicate that those who respect and adore that flag are traitors is the same as my wife calling me an adulterous SOB because I remember my first sweetheart (That was before I saw her a few months ago).

    Nobody can dismiss the contribution of Latins to this great Country of ours. Not only mexicans but colombians (The Colombia Batallion lost 85% of the sodiers in Korea), venezuelans, people from every latin nation have contributed to the greatness of USA. Let those people who call us names, who hate us for being “brown”, who promulgate stupid laws against us, let them simmer in their own hate which will consume them in the end. We know who we are and we walk with our heads high, not in an arrogant way for what we have done but in a friendly way for what we are. The more we proclaim what we think are our “virtues”, the more hate we will receive. Let our deeds speak for us, let our behavior force them to respect us and let our “nationalistic” pride show them that we are not mexican-american or colombo-americans but AMERICANS only. Long live the United States of America.

    When I became a United States citizen, more than 40 years ago, a real friend of mine, very grigo, threw a party to celebrate. And, naturally, in that party there were other gringos with ideas similar to those of the Tea Party. And one of those came to me and bluntly asked me if I did not feel that I was commiting treason against Colombia by becoming a US citizen. I did not even bat an eye and asked him: “Are you married?” He said, “yes, why”. I said: “when you got married, did you feel that you were commiting treason against your mother? Colombia is my mother, the United States is my wife and I love them both. And right now I am AMERICAN. And will be until the day I die”.

    • Francisco Barragan says

      @Mr Alberto Cardona:
      You can be proud of your Ethnic, Cultural and Spiritual heritage; and also Proud of being an American, at the same time.

      If someone thinks that you must pick one over the other, as you seem to suggest, implies that you are confusing and misunderstanding TWO separate and equal categories: Ethnic Identity AND Citizenship categories

      The following categories are separate:
      2) Nationality
      3) Race
      4) Ethnic/Cultural/Spiritual

      It is okay to self identify as MONOCultural or Bicultural, and at the same time to be an American Citizen, because this is our nation’s strength: Acknowledging our Diversity, AND increasing our Inclusiveness in all spheres of society.

      For example, I am Mexican-American (An ETHNIC/CULTURAL identity and I will always be!); I am also proud of being an American (a CITIZENSHIP identity) and I will also always be.

      Francisco J. Barragan “paco”

  2. Jose Armas says

    Senor Baldenegro

    What an insightful perspective about the Confederate flag and the Tea Party.

    One of our heros, Corky Gonzales wrote: “I Am Joaquin. I must fight and win this struggle for my sons, and they must know from me who I am.” We need more of your insights from more of us.

    Your paper reminds us that we must be writing our own history, otherwise the Ken Burns and the “tea baggers” will write it for us. To your comments I’d like to remind your readers that among the un-forgiveable omissions to the WWII history is the failure to mention the unmatched contributions of Guy Gabaldon who captured more enemy than anyone else in USA history –yet was never awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor…

    Thank you for your piece.

    I’d respectfully respond to Senor Cardona by reminding him that Colombianos, Venezuelans, Mexicanos and every one born in Latin AMERICA are also American. We must not allow whites to appropriate the “American” identity exclusively for the United States of America… This is why we must speak up if we are going to conquer the anti-Latino fever that is sweeping our country today.

    This hatred/racism that is spreading like a wildfire in our country is NOT just about undocumented immigrants. “Ask not, for whom the bell tolls…”

    Jose Armas
    Albuquerque, NM

  3. Carlos Romero says

    Those that carry and waive the confederate flag are TRAITORS, plain and simple. It has nothing to do with heritage, it is the flag of hate, the flag of slavery, the flag of segregation, the flag of the KKK, the flag of the neo-nazis, the flag of racist and anti-American laws, and now the flag of the teabaggers. The confederacy was demolished in five years, it never had a functioning government. They deliberately left the union for the main purpose of keeping the slave system alive. Much like the military-industrialists and corporatists of today that own our Congress they saw people as a commodity. There is no culture in that, there can be no pride. If our public school history books spoke truthfully about the civil war and its atrocities no one would ever waive that shameful symbol of hate. Immediately after the end of the war countless African Americans and other non-white people were lynched and hung under the confederate flag and even today continue to be denied justice and opportunity because of it. Those African Americans were killed for nothing except for being who they were. That is nothing to boast about, and most certainly it is completely unpatriotic and un-american to carry around. We shall overcome! Si se puede. Great article Sal!

  4. Francisco Barragan says

    Thank you Mr. Salomon Baldenegro for your post, and Mr.Carlos Romero for your comments.

    Please see the link below:
    “Were the Confederates Heroes or Terrorists?”

    Francisco J Barragan “paco”
    My opinions only and not those of any group


  1. […] In Tea Party Republican Arizona, teaching Mexican American history is illegal because that history is purportedly “un-American” and foments the “overthrow of the government.” […]