Chicanos, Latinos and the effects that came with the Vietnam War

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Rebecca Aguila

The lecture aimed to educate students on the effects the Vietnam war had on Chicanos and Latinos.

Rebecca Aguila, Staff Writer

Veterans and students gathered in the science building waiting to hear about the Vietnam War and how Mexican-Americans and Latinos were affected by it. The lecture was coordinated by History professor John Macias on Oct. 23.

“I want to expose students to this because some of them don’t know how Latinos and Mexican-Americans were affected in this war and to be able to connect with other veterans as well in their families,” Macias said.

Macias welcomed professor Tomás Summers-Sandoval, who teaches Chicano and Latino studies at Pomona College. He spoke of Sandoval’s historical research on Chicano and Latino veterans who served in the Vietnam war.

Traveling from place to place, Sandoval has gathered veterans’ experiences about how they were sent to Southeast Asia.

Many of their neighborhoods where the population was mainly Latinos and Mexican-Americans were swept by draft notices or enlisted to follow friends who were in the military.

The Vietnam war happened at a focal point of the chicano movement that happened in Lincoln Heights during the late 1960’s.

Many students are not aware at the fact the U.S. misrepresented Latinos and Mexican-Americans labeling them as white during the Vietnam War, according to Summers-Sandoval.

Sandoval wanted students to realize that if they have family members who served in the Vietnam war, to make that connection on how they struggled with not knowing they had PTSD or how their life changed after the war as being a chicano.

The Vietnam war was booming with propaganda being sold at schools and job locations. It was being offered as being the only opportunity for young male Chicanos in the areas.

Summers-Sandoval gave his example on how the war took minority groups and shipped them over seas to fight in a war that was being broadcasted in Hithe United States as a winning battle.

Chicanos like David Lopez, Vietnam veteran, saw many of his friends and cousins leave for Vietnam, this left him with the belief that the U.S was sending entire communities to war.

Jerry Ayala was one of the many Chicano soldiers who thought that the military was only option to have a successful life.

Sandoval shared that Ayala served two terms in the military because he felt that it was the only thing he was ever really good at.

Ayala stated, “The military really tested me and I overcame every obstacle the army threw at me.”

It is important to show these veterans that they are respected to this day because of they are misrepresented in Vietnam war, according to Sandoval

Sandoval stated, “I want to share this historical information back with the Chicano and Latino communities because some families don’t grow up with any knowledge of history or books.”