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Nation's Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Pauses to Salute Those Who Gave All, Even Those America Deported

May 29, 2023
For more information, contact David Cruz at (818) 689-9991

Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) stands and salutes on this Memorial Day to pay tribute to our military's brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. LULAC, since its founding, has always respected and revered service to our country and holds patriotism in the highest esteem.

Noteworthy are all service members killed in combat, especially those who received the nation's highest recognition for losing their lives while saving others. They are among the more than 60 Latino Medal of Honor recipients. Please take a few minutes this Memorial Day to read the stirring account of the valiant actions they undertook without regard for their own lives.

Today, nearly one-in-five service members in the military are Latino. Throughout history, Latino men and women have laid down their lives in combat in every major military conflict. LULAC salutes the unwavering commitment and dedication of those lost in the line of duty and expresses its eternal gratitude for their supreme sacrifice. Their gallantry and, ultimately, their lives were the price paid so that all who reside in the United States can enjoy the freedoms and privileges guaranteed under our nation's Constitution.

Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen died in a different type of combat, an innocent casualty of military sexual trauma (MST) while serving at what was then Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Brandon Caserta, a Petty Officer 3rd Class assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 in Norfolk, Virginia, fought against chronic bullying, harassment, and assaults ignored by toxic commands up until his death by suicide in June 2018, a fatality the military and country is acknowledging, as reported in People Magazine this week.


LULAC is proud to have led the work for passage into law of the I Am Vanessa Act and the Brandon Caserta Act. Yet, for deported veterans like Mario Arturo Rodriguez, who died in a Juarez, Mexico hospital, their deaths are still statistics in a different, much longer battle being waged. Senator Alex Padilla introduced proposed legislation to keep non-citizen veterans who offend and serve their sentences from being deported and repatriating those who have been sent away. President Biden signed an Executive Order to assist deported veterans and their families, but it is too late for some, like Rodriguez.

Photo Credit: Cosima Rangel / Puente Collaborative and Courtesy Moreno family

LULAC reminds all Americans that our solemn duty is to honor the brave by upholding the highest principles of our civic duties and responsibilities. We must ensure that we remain a nation where everyone is included, as our founders intended. America's Declaration of Independence envisioned a country where all are created equal, with rights that cannot be denied, including "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Yet, just days after that document was written, war followed, and sacrifices began to be exacted with it. For 248 years since that beginning, the meaning of those words has been protected through the sacrifices of countless individuals.

Latino service members have shed their blood and taken their final breath on battlefields worldwide, far from their loved ones. Yet, on this Memorial Day, their memory remains deeply embedded within our nation's consciousness and is closer than ever in our hearts and minds. Their legacy will forever remind us of the valor and selflessness that defines the American spirit. So does the leadership of military leaders now gone, but not forgotten, such as Army General Richard Cavazos, the first Latino namesake for an American military installation.

May we cherish their memory forever and salute them with profound pride and respect. LULAC calls upon all Americans to join us in honoring the fallen and commit ourselves to upholding our nation's values. Let us stand together in unity, ensuring that their sacrifice was not in vain and that their legacy remains an enduring symbol of the strength and resilience of our great nation.



The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation's largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC's programs, services, and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting the critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/