Latino influence in American wars

Latino influence in American wars

According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are currently 1.2 million Hispanics or Latinos who are veterans of the armed forces, and as history shows us, it's not something new.

Since the days of the American Revolution, Spanish people have fought in war for an American cause.

Mostly because Spain at the time, already had colonies throughout North America.

Cubans and Puerto Ricans also took part in the American Revolution. However Kutztown University history profeessor Luis Rodriquez said there was no categorization of Latinos or Hispanics at the time.

"They were all Spaniards then, the distinction wasn't there necessarily just yet," he said.

There were also war heroes like the first admiral for the United States Navy, David Farrugut, who fought in the Civil War.

His father -- Jorge Farragut -- was from Spain and was also in the U.S. Navy.

"His father fought in the war of 1812, and you have to conjecture that Spaniards fought with Andrew Jackson simply because New Orleans was multi-cultural," said Rodriquez.

In addition, during the Mexican American War, Rodriquez said many Mexicans died in the Alamo, actually fighting against the autocratic Mexican government.

"Many of them preferred being part of the United States and fought. They fought on both sides, mind you, but many of them did fight for Texas and Californian independence," he said.

According to the National World War II museum, more than 18 thousand Puerto Ricans served in the military during World War I.

In World War II, it's estimated close to 350,000 Mexican Americans fought as well as 53,000 soldiers from Puerto Rico.

Decades later, Latinos like Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry are awarded a medal of honor for deflecting a grenade from his comrades by using his right hand which he lost in Afghanistan in 2008.

"I think we've got one Latino medal of honor there out of maybe five or six that have been given out in our most recent conflict and it's just indicative of the contributions and sacrifices that Latinos have made for this country but then so have all the other groups," said Rodriquez.


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