National City

Ramon Vasquez Lugo


By Mary Gould

When Ramon Lugo reminisces about his life, he speaks of hard work on farm fields as a child and on battlefields as a young man.

Once the Lugo children got old enough, they worked in the fields, picking cotton, carrots and cantaloupe during the summers in their hometown, Glendale, Arizona.

“I guess you’d call it child labor now. It was rough,” he said.

The family lived in the barrio on the other side of the railroad tracks from Anglos. "The tracks were like a divider: 'You guys belong there,' " he said.

David Valladolid


By Kassandra Balli

After almost getting his eyes blown out of his head by a mine in Vietnam, David Valladolid was hospitalized for three months. He lay flat in a bed in a hospital in Saigon for 30 days; doctors feared that if he moved and began to bleed, he would go blind. Today, doctors still say it is a miracle that he regained 90 percent of his eyesight.

Jesus Ramirez


By John Weber

Jesus "Chuy" Ramirez believed serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War taught him responsibility.

But even as a child, Ramirez, the oldest of four growing up on a farm in the Mexican municipality of Mexicali, Baja California, had many obligations.

He had many memories from a tough childhood. He recalled when his father kidnapped him and his three siblings after lying to school authorities about their grandmother's health. Ramirez's parents, Fortunato Ramirez and Maria Cecilia Navarro Ramos, had been involved in a custody battle.

Alonzo Robert Rivera


By Ali Vise

Catching a midnight train in Fresno, Calif., Alonzo R. Rivera Jr., watched his mother, draped with a blanket, crying as she said goodbye. At that moment, the work of his childhood harvesting grapes and cotton became a thing of the past. He recalled his father’s departing word: “I’m going to see if you’re a real man now.”

As the son of migrant workers, “Junior” as his parents referred to him, spent summers in the agricultural fields. He is the oldest of three siblings, all of whom were farm workers.

Manuel Cavada


By Lena Price

It was an evening like any other in Saigon in April 1968, Manuel Cavada, an Air Force crew chief, was doing the routine maintenance on C-121’s aircraft. His job was to make sure the engines were free of metal debris.

But within minutes, he realized that rockets had been fired and were heading his way.He did not expect to get caught in the middle of an air raid and come close to death.

Alfred G Gonzalez

Rene A Cazares

Oscar C. Muñoz


By Jordan Haeger

It's 3 a.m., and Oscar C. Muñoz wakes up to make sure his doors and windows are locked in his Chula Vista, Calif., home. It's been this way every day for more than 40 years.

Muñoz enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on April 15, 1968, without telling his parents. One of twelve children born to Manual and Abigail Muñoz, farm laborers in Arizona, he knew the military was his only way to access education and success.

"We used to pick cotton, and it was three cents a pound," Muñoz said. "Can you imagine how much cotton you have to pick to make one pound?"

Peter Salcedo


By Diana Lee

As a child in southern California, Pete Salcedo hid in embarrassment during lunch to eat homemade tacos.

"At that time you didn't have all these Mexican restaurants," Salcedo said. He thinks their growing popularity in mainstream America caused him to stop hiding his Mexican food.