Veteran’s Day is quickly approaching. We tell students this is the day to celebrate veterans. It is a worthwhile endeavor; however, we tend to emphasize a story of veterans that disregards contributions Latinos have made to the military. While the Census Bureau reported there were 1.2 million Hispanic veterans living in the United States in 2012, it is rare to hear about Latino veterans. For example, are you aware that Latinos have served in each major American war since the American War for Independence? During World War I, the need for a larger potential draft pool fueled the United States Congress to grant citizenship to all Puerto Ricans. In exchange for their military service, many Mexican immigrants (and by extension their families) were given a path to citizenship during World War II.
Thus, this week, we’re doing something a little different. Just from what I have found in my research, I know there are not many resources out there for teachers who wish to encompass greater diversity in their discussion of Veteran’s Day. Since I know it can be difficult to find these resources, I am going to share with you some that I found useful for the classroom–or at least useful for our own enrichment.
First, I came across a children’s book which is fairly new and discusses what it is like from a child’s perspective to be a Hispanic woman in the military. Graciela Tiscareñno-Sato’s Goodnight Captain Mama: Buenas Noches a Capitán Mamá is a book for children in grades kindergarten through third grade. It is a bilingual book in which a young boy, Marco, sees his mother in her green military uniform, and the two begin a conversation regarding the significance of the color of her stripes. This is a great read for the younger kids because it emphasizes that not only are Hispanic men serving in the military, but Hispanic women serve as well. The book shows what military service means, and the fact that Tiscareñno-Sato is a military veteran makes it even more enriching.
Second, I came across an online resource that not helps refresh our knowledge, but it also provides more details regarding Hispanic involvement in major American wars. One such publication has been provided by the Smithsonian Latino Center. For educators, they have prepared Latino Patriots in American Military History: Part I and Part II. This serves as a guide as it takes teachers from the American Revolution to Vietnam. It provides a brief overview of Latino participation in each war, and it also provides lesson plans. This is a bilingual guide available for free online.
If you are curious about other resources, there are other personal stories as well as news stories available online regarding Latino contributions to the armed forces. While the contributions that Latinos have made to our military have not been readily discussed, let’s change that by discussing them in class this Veteran’s Day.
Until next time,