Oswaldo V. Ramirez

By Robert Mayer

Refusing to be segregated or treated as second-class citizens, Oswaldo Ramirez and about 15 of his Mission, Texas, schoolmates boycotted the new junior high school built solely for Spanish-speaking students.

Edelmiro T. Vidaurri

By Michael Taylor

During the span of a 27-year military career, Edelmiro Vidaurri has worked on the aircraft used to fight three wars. In the course of those conflicts, he saw change both in the technology of aircraft and the attitudes of his fellow soldiers.

Lillian Margerite Hollingsworth Ramirez

By Raquel C. Garza

On June 6, 1944, Lillian Marguerite Ramirez was baking gingerbread men as a surprise for a neighbor's child.

Ramirez's husband, Oswaldo, meanwhile, was thousands of miles away, serving on the front lines on Omaha Beach.

Her brother-in-law, Rafael Ramirez, had come to visit her in her parents’ home in Biloxi, Miss., a day earlier. He arrived the night before D-Day, or Operation Overlord, was scheduled to take place.

"All that day, they kept turning off the radio when I would walk in," Ramirez said.

Miguel Pineda

By Sandra Ibarra

Miguel Pineda recalls Gen. Douglas MacArthur trying to inspire him and the other inexperienced soldiers upon their arrival in Brisbane, Australia. Pineda, 21 at the time, remembers MacArthur saying: "You kill him or he'll kill you!"

That was the defining moment when the reality and hardship of war and death hit this young man.

Thomas Galindo

By Antonio Gilb

Thomas Galindo was working at an Austin drug store selling sodas for 35 cents when he heard the shocking report on the radio. It was news that would irrevocably change the 19-year-old's life.

The date was Dec. 7, 1941. Galindo heard the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

"I was getting close to that age," he said. He knew he was going to war.

Sam Casarez

By Stephen Stetson

For most of his life, Sam Casarez, an Austin, Texas, native who served as a Merchant Marine in World War II, wasn’t accorded the privileges and benefits of veterans.

Francisco Venegas

By Erika Rodriguez

Francisco Venegas sits in the kitchen of his house in southeast Austin. That act alone makes him feel lucky.

Joe Moreno Uriegas

By Cody Morris

Joe Moreno Uriegas faced overwhelming enemy fire and unfamiliar surroundings on the front lines in Northern Europe during World War II.

A soldier in the 188th Field Artillery Battalion supporting the 82nd Airborne Division, Uriegas remained optimistic and strong-willed, however, summoning his beliefs as a devout Catholic to pull him through. Once back home, he’d again turn to his faith: this time to help establish a local veterans post to support and nurture Catholic veterans.

Reginald Rios

By Chris Nay

Infantryman Reginald Rios watched helplessly in December of 1944 as two fellow Americans fell to enemy fire while U.S. Sherman tanks faced off against German Panzers in northern France.

His only thought: to survive.

Shooting out of foxholes on the front line every day, ducking into foxholes to avoid bullets every night and praying every minute it would end soon -- such was the life of Rios during World War II, as infantryman were the first to the front line.

"You have to do it," he said. "You either do what you're told or be killed."

María Elisa Reyes Rodríguez

By Cheryl Smith

Seventy-seven-year-old María Elisa Reyes Rodriguez isn’t shy about opening her mouth when something's not right. As a Mexican American woman and former employee of the United States Civil Service, she has developed strong opinions about her country, discrimination and the relationship between the two.

"We're in America, and everybody has to be treated equally," Reyes Rodriguez said. "But if you don't have the guts to speak out for yourself, nobody's gonna do it for you."