September 28, 2007

Latino Veterans of World War II Stories of Service Orientation

As the world commemorates the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, and America celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month, San Diego Public Library (SDPL), KPBS, Media Arts Center San Diego, and Digital Clubhouse Network (DNC) are proud to pay tribute to Latinos who were members of America’s Greatest Generation.

During WWII, Latinos served in disproportionate numbers, joining every branch of military service, and fighting bravely and with distinction in both the European and Pacific theatres, often on the front lines of some of the bloodiest battles of the war. Twelve Latinos received the Medal of Honor, America’s most prestigious award for valor, and thousands of young Latinos died or were wounded defending freedoms that were often denied to them by a country that had not fully accepted them into the mainstream. Those who returned home safely, faced discrimination and lack of equal opportunity, despite their record of service to their country.

Our Latino WWII era veterans are now in their 70’s and 80’s, and leaving us at an accelerating rate. Soon their sacrifices defending America, all too often taken for granted and are in danger of being forgotten entirely.

At the orientation to recruit San Diego Latino Veterans the attendees will view first hand accounts of a group of local Latino WWII veterans whose personal stories have been captured in the form of mini-documentaries produced by youth and adult volunteers from the nonprofit Digital Clubhouse Network. Begun in 1998, the DCN has helped hundreds of veterans preserve their stories so that they can be shared with their families and friends, archived in libraries and museums, used by schools and colleges, and streamed on the Internet to educate and inspire future generations. In 2004, the DCN was the first to submit stories of our nations Latino veterans to the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress where they are archived as part of America’s permanent memory.

While these short “digital stories” can provide only a glimpse of what these young men experienced during the war, and the part they played in determining the future of America and the world, they are poignant and powerful reminders of how much these individuals were willing to sacrifice for their country. Their stories also remind us that the struggle for full acceptance and participation that is the right of every American citizen continues to this day for many Latinos.

Please join us on October 6th at 10:00am in the 3rd floor auditorium of the Central Library to continue support for the Latino Legacy Project. During October, SDPL and youth volunteers will assist Latino veterans to tell their stories of service and produce a series of digital stories that will be archived for future generations.

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