tv American History TV CSPAN February 7, 2015 4:33pm-4:46pm EST
but most especially the republicans who come to washington after the civil war have not been in congress so , they don't know these guys, which does have an impact. other questions? no? >> all right. thank you very much. [applause] the book "washington brotherhood: politics, social life, and the coming of the civil war" is available. >> thank you for coming. i appreciate it.
>> on history of shelf, here from the countries best known history riders of the past decade every saturday at four clock p.m. eastern. does it our website, c-span.org/history. -- this it our website c-span.org/history. >> american history tv is featuring corpus christi texas. padre island's national seashore is the longest stretch of undeveloped area in the world. spain, mexico, and the united states all claimed ownership of the island of different times. together with our time warner cable partners, c-span city to her staff recently visited many sites, exploring corpus christi's rich history. learn more about corpus christi all weekend here on american history tv. >> born in mexico, dr. hector p.
garcia called corpus christie home. he founded the american gi forum and became an advocate for mexican americans rights. we visited the mary and jeff l library in corpus christi to learn more about dr. garcia's work. >> we have a variety of materials illustrating different phases of his life and career. he is best known as the founder of the american gi forum. that was established in 18 48th, not too long after his return from his service in world war ii. it was created to assist mexican-american veterans in their struggle to return to normal life after their war service. he is recorded as having said that he felt especially suited to do that work because he had
compassion for others as a physician. he had military training and service, which made him understand how to organize things. he also said that it lends itself to creating a national organization which started here in corpus christi because the people he was trying to help were military. they were accustomed to being grouped and organized in that fashion. the american gi forum grew rapidly. in addition to wanting to help his fellow returning veterans, he became aware of the impoverished conditions in which mexican-americans were living. there was the issue of the labor camp, where migrant farmworkers were being held. these are photographs that illustrate the conditions. he was appalled that people in the united states living in those conditions. he set out to help.
the american gi forum became active early in its history to try to help these people. they tried to raise consciousness about the conditions in which these migrant workers from mexico were living on u.s. soil. these items represent a case, which was an incident that occurred early in the history of the american gi forum, and dr. garcia was very instrumental in publicizing. the private served the united states during world war ii and was killed by a japanese sniper towards the end of the war. it took three years to get his remains recovered and returned home. his widow arranged to have his funeral conducted by the only funeral home in her hometown of
three rivers, texas, near corpus christi. they were willing to conduct that funeral, but they were not willing to allow his body to remain in their funeral home overnight. it was for fear of offending the white citizens of the area. she appealed to dr. garcia and conducted a letter writing campaign to positions with influence. i response came from lyndon johnson, who had recently been elected senator. this telegram illustrates his commitment to helping the situation. he states his belief that it was wrong for a soldier, a fallen soldier, to be discriminated against after death simply because he was of mexican origin, and assuring the widow that not only would she bear no cost for the funeral, but she had a choice of where he could be laid to rest. he offered burial in the arlington national cemetery, and
that is where private lung coria was laid to rest. this item is a call from dr. garcia to the local community to protest the injustice. he makes the case that it is unacceptable for an american soldier to be discriminated against after his death solely because he is mexican. he said that it is time for everyone, not just american gi forum the, to stand up and protest. this is a first time where a major issue arose that put him into contact with lyndon johnson. that was an ongoing relationship that lasted through his presidency. dr. garcia worked to support the vote for the democratic ticket. he was one of the organizers of the fever kennedy club. he and other gentleman roamed the country trying to get support for the ticket. you can see a letter from cat --
president kennedy thanking him for his work on the ticket. mexican americans, at least in south texas, worked voting in any significant -- worked voting in any significant numbers. it cost $1.75 to vote, and they weren't making enough money to be able to afford to do that. wages were very low, and one dollar 75 does not sound like much to us, but it was a lot to them. there was a campaign to organize clubs that would support the kennedy ticket. dr. garcia and his contemporaries were leading the effort to talk to the populace and get them to understand the importance to vote and to vote democratic. they continue to relationship between dr. garcia and president kennedy. once kennedy was in office, dr. garcia began to feel that there was still no representation of
mexican-americans at the federal level, programs efforts to better the mexican american condition. this was at the time that blacks were beginning to achieve some success in gaining civil rights. dr. garcia was appointed to several positions by kennedy and by johnson. his -- this tie, which johnson continued throughout the presidency, you can see some correspondence from and to johnson kennedy, and dr. garcia on various issues. he worked to try to improve employment opportunities for mexican americans. that is referred to in that central letter from johnson. president kennedy appointed him to represent the united states on a treaty citing -- signing in the west indies. you can see that here, 1961.
later, president johnson appointed him as the united states delegate to the united nations. the photograph to the left shows him receiving his credentials. it was an extension of his efforts to improve the conditions of what he referred to as "our people" -- mexican-americans and united states in particular. it was a growth of the skills that he -- that he had begun to develop and working with others. it was on a global stage instead of a local stage. he always had the welfare of the mexican american people and impoverished people at heart and what he was doing. that is what he worked for. one of the successes that dr. garcia experienced during his diplomatic service was his address the united nations in spanish. it was the first time that a
representative of the united states of america had addressed the united nations in a line which other than english. it was quiet were received. it was very much appreciated by his latin american colleagues in the body. after the vietnam war, he received hundreds, probably thousands, of letters from returned veterans seeking his support and all sorts of matters, principally in getting their benefits that they had earned as military serving the united states. in his earlier days of his career, dr. garcia had a contract with the government for which he was paid two dollars per soldier to treat their medical needs because there was no veterans administration hospital here. he was the only dr. serving the mexican american community. we have three letters here dealing with the vietnam era. we have a letter of appeal for help from one soldier
handwritten, you notice. another letter from a soldier in 1974. this is a letter to senator benson from dr. garcia trying to pursue senator benson's assistance and getting some information for this woman who has contacted dr. garcia. she does not know what has become of her husband. dr. garcia was an unusually committed and dedicated individual. he worked his whole life to better the conditions of his fellow man. he was not only a position serving the community. he was a diplomat. he was the founder of the american gi forum. he was the recipient of the medal of freedom. you can see him wearing it in this picture. you can also see him wearing his stethoscope. this was taken in his medical clinic, which remained open until shortly before his death.
he balanced all those things in his life, service to local community, service to the greater good. this extra special to us because it shows all those facets of this man in one shot. you can see elements representing all of those pillars of his effort in his life, and also i like it because the expression on his face. you see such intensity, it encapsulates everything he did in his commitment to serve. >> he has faithfully represented our government on numerous occasions overseas and domestically. dr. hector garcia is a credit to his family and community and all americans. through his efforts, based on a deep leaf and traditional american ideals, he has made this a better country. [applause]