TX

Albert Alvarez


By Dylan Nikoletopoulos

Albert Alvarez did not have to make any compromises to become mayor of Pearsall, Texas. He knew exactly why he wanted to do it and had the background and name recognition to help get him elected.

His father, Adolfo Alvarez, had served as Frio County Commissioner for 16 years, and Albert also wanted to represent the people of Pearsall.

“I wanted to be like my dad and follow in his footsteps,” said Alvarez. “Not only in the business world, but as an elected official as well.”

Alberto Lara Rojo


Alberto Lara Rojo heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor the day after it happened.

“We didn’t know about it; we lived on the wrong side of town,” recalled the Mexican-American Navy veteran.

On that Monday, the Sunday attack on the American naval base in Hawaii was the talk of his high school in Marfa, Texas, where he was a freshman. Outside the school, other Mexican-American students told him, "It’s a gringo war. It does not affect us Spanish people."

Lauro Castillo


By the Voces Staff

Lauro Castillo grew up in a poor farming family in South Texas, living in a bare-bones house with a leaky roof.

The U.S. Army provided an escape from poverty but also exposed him to the brutal reality of war. He was an infantryman in some of the toughest battles of World War II.

To Castillo, it was simply a matter of doing his duty for his country.

“I’m proud” of serving, he said. “I fulfilled my obligation to the U.S.”

Modesto Arriaga


By Faith Daniel

Modesto Arriaga was playing baseball with his church team, the Rosenberg Lions, when a police car pulled up and asked for one of his teammates to go with them. Later, the other boys would learn that the ballplayer’s older brother had drowned in the Brazos River, where he had been swimming.

“So the Father of the church asked me, ‘Why are the kids drowning in the river?’ And I told him, 'Because they didn’t let us into the swimming pool,'” Arriaga said. “He said, ‘You know what? Tomorrow, we’re going to see why they don’t let you in.’”

Iris Galvan


By Rebecca Chavoya

An old Hispanic man pushed a tamale cart down the streets of Rosenberg, Texas, in 1974. Iris Galvan, 18-year-old high school student and member of Juventud Unida, approached him with a warm, welcoming demeanor.

“Have you ever thought about voting?” she said. “You have a right to vote. You are a citizen of this country.” 

The man shrugged off her suggestion, saying that he knew his voice didn’t matter. “I don’t speak very good English,” he said.

Felicita Munguia Arriaga


By Hope Teel

In 1959, Felicita Munguia Arriaga was a 12-year-old accompanying her mother to the polls, where the older woman planned to cast her vote for a man named Joe Hubenak.

Very few Hispanics were voting during that time for various reasons, including fear and illiteracy, but because she worked for Hubenak and his wife, Jesusa Munguia and her husband had agreed to go vote for him.

Ernestine Mojica Kidder


By Haley Dawson

Ernestine Mojica Kidder vividly recalls one of her earliest memories as a young child in Taylor, Texas. Her father lifted her into his arms and pointed to a schoolhouse in the distance. “That’s where you’re going to school as soon as you’re old enough,” she remembers him saying. “When you’re 6, you’re gonna go to school.”

A child of the World War II era and a woman of the Civil Rights era, MojicaKidder was among the first Hispanic women for whom a higher education became both a possibility and a reality.

Charley Gonzales Kidder


By Natasha Verma

“Two years, 11 months and 21 days,” World War II veteran Charley Gonzales Kidder said with a smile. “That’s exactly how long I served.”

At 18 years of age, Gonzales Kidder was proud and honored that his country gave him the opportunity to serve during a time of strife. At the time of his interview, he was 85 and his feelings had not changed.

"I got to see a lot of the world and meet a lot of fine people,” Gonzales Kidder said. “I’m very proud of the service I helped render.”

Raul Portales


By Jordan D. Schraeder

Working at Dodson’s Grocery in 1943, Raul “Roy” Portales dreamed of sailing the high seas. That year, the San Antonio native found a way to make that dream a reality: enlistment in the U.S. Navy. After three years of stocking and delivering groceries, Portales’ enlistment in the Navy on July 7, 1943, offered a change of scenery.

Ernesto Sanchez


By Mikael DeSanto

Laredo, Texas, native Ernesto Sanchez didn’t always want to join the military, even when there was a war in Korea. He was a college student -- hoping to get an officer's commission in the ROTC -- and didn’t want to leave his family. That changed when he saw that communists were advancing through Korea. He said to himself, “Well, someone has to stop them.” He decided to step up.