Alonzo Robert Rivera

By Ali Vise

Catching a midnight train in Fresno, Calif., Alonzo R. Rivera Jr., watched his mother, draped with a blanket, crying as she said goodbye. At that moment, the work of his childhood harvesting grapes and cotton became a thing of the past. He recalled his father’s departing word: “I’m going to see if you’re a real man now.”

As the son of migrant workers, “Junior” as his parents referred to him, spent summers in the agricultural fields. He is the oldest of three siblings, all of whom were farm workers.

Enrique Cervantes

By Cary-Anne Olsen

A four-line poem written on a birthday card had more influence on World War II Air Force pilot Lieutenant Colonel Henry "Hank" Cervantes than his teacher could have ever imagined.

"On my eighth birthday, Miss Neilmeyer, my third-grade teacher, gave me a card on which she had written,

'Dream your dreams upon a star

Dream them high and dream them far.

For the dreams we dream in youth,

Makes us what we are.'

I thought it had to do with flying-high, stars [and] ‘far,’ and I began thinking about being a pilot at that age."

Trino J. Soto

By Cindy Carcamo

U.S. Navy veteran Trino Soto can't remember the exact date or location, but the image of his ship along with eight other destroyers traveling in the evening along the Pacific Ocean will forever remain in his mind.

"As we were going I was looking back, like this, because we were the flag ship. And, they were all staggered, one behind the other like that," Soto said. "That was the most beautiful sight I ever saw -- those nine destroyers going full steam."

Jessie Ortiz

By Cindy Carcamo

From a young age, Jessie Ortiz learned his Mexican American heritage would be an obstacle in a world dominated by what he calls the "white man's law." He would experience prejudice and discrimination -- even when he fought for his country in World War II. Looking back on his life, he recalls a story of constant struggle, survival and success on the battlefields of war and life.

Ortiz literally was born on the "wrong side of the tracks" -- the Southern Pacific Railroad Tracks, in Fresno, Calif. His parents, Felipa and Jose Ortiz, were Mexican immigrants.

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