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Unfortunately, the majority of military personnel, ranging from officers to privates, did not see them as "genuine Americans.”  Instead, they continued to be viewed as second class citizens and were routinely assigned to the infantry regardless of their aptitude test scores. 


Service in the infantry often entailed assignments to the most hazardous combat duties.  Two battalions comprised mostly of Mexican-Americans from New Mexico, Arizona and Texas were sent to The Philippine Islands and fought alongside Filipinos to defend the Bataan Peninsula.  Thousands who survived the battle died during the infamous Bataan Death March as a result of abusive treatment by their captors.  The remaining survivors suffered a lengthy and wretched imprisonment.

Thirteen men earned and were awarded the American Medal of Honor for valor above and beyond the call of duty during WWII.

Additional medals that were awarded included the Silver and Bronze Star, the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart."






"World War II and the years that followed brought both progress and disappointment to Mexican-Americans as they once again heeded the call to defend democracy.  More than one-third of a million soldiers served in all branches of the armed forces. 

World War II

"Ironically, while hundreds of thousands of soldiers fought and died for democracy overseas, their families were being oppressed and abused at home.  On June 3, 1943, a rumor spread that Mexican-American men had beaten sailors over a situation involving Mexican-American females.  The newspaper headlined the rumor, causing sailors and marines (who had long resented the swaggering attitudes and style of clothes worn by the Zoot Suiters) to descend on the downtown Los Angeles area and into Mexican-American neighborhoods.  They attacked local youth, beating them and stripping off their clothes, whether they wore Zoot Suits or not. 


The police turned a blind eye and the “Zoot Suit Riot” continued for five days.  Finally, due to pressure from the Mexican Consulate, federal officials restricted Navy personnel from entering the downtown area and the riot ended."

Zoot Suit Riot

The American Southwest—

A colorful and culturally rich tapestry

woven with the various dialects, customs, cultures and architecture

of the people who have dwelt in it for thousands of years.

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