By: Voces Staff
By: Voces Staff
Jennifer Reyna is a 30-year-old tech worker who lives in Portland, Oregon. She was born and raised in El Monte, California. She has lived in Portland since 2016 and works for a tech company called Squarespace. Before COVID, she had a very normal routine that included going to the gym daily and walking to and from work, but with the work and gym closures, she wasn’t able to do that anymore.
By Voces Staff
In 1966, Richard Soto of Tracy, California, should have rotated off with his surgical team from a hospital ship off the coast of Vietnam. Instead, he stayed on, going AWOL, feeling an obligation to incoming casualties.“I told the doctor that I was working with, ‘I’m not going home.’ He says, ‘Well ... when they come to investigate, I’ll tell them you were here,’” Soto said. “I think he knew there was going to be a court-martial.” But Soto was not court-martialed; he was honorably discharged in 1968.
By Zachary Romo, California State University, Fullerton
Standing in front of a judge, Ramon Rodriguez was given two options when he was 17: Go to jail or join the military. With his father’s approval, he chose to serve.
As a teenager in the late 1950s, Rodriguez had run wild on the streets of Wilmington, California. He was involved with gangs, including one case of grand theft auto. He claimed the reason for his behavior was a desire for adventure.
Philip Cervantes mastered the science of destruction as a specialist in explosives and demolition in a military career during the earliest years of the Cold War.
Born in East Los Angeles, California, in 1929, Cervantes was the fourth of 11 children. His mother, Catalina Rodarte, tended to the household, and his father, Antonio Cervantes, was a carpenter in the construction business, venturing to destinations where work was available.
Cervantes began to work with his father while attending junior high school. He spent his Saturdays watering down concrete for him.
By Michael John Loffredo, St. Bonaventure University
While many Navy sailors stepped foot on land to fight for the United States during the Korean War, Tereso Reza spent his years of service working aboard a ship. While not seeing action bothered him at times, he recalls his experience as "pleasant," and he returned unharmed.
Reza was born in East Los Angeles, California, on Sept. 23, 1931, to Salvador Reza and Maria Berroteran. He was the second-oldest of seven brothers and sisters.
By Jeffrey Kmiecinski, St. Bonaventure University
When Henry Alfaro began his broadcasting career, he was one of very few Mexican-Americans in the industry. Decades later, his community work and trailblazing career led to him being named by Hispanic Magazine as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Latinos in the United States.
Alfaro was born on November 25, 1934 in South Pasadena, California. His father, Enrique Cardenas Alfaro, was a painter with the Southern Pacific Railroad. His mother, Irene Ochoa Alfaro, was a housewife.
By Voces Oral History Project
Andrew Melendrez lost his mother at 9 and his father a few years later. By 19, he had been drafted into the Army and would see brutal combat in Europe during World War II. He fought in some of the war's most harrowing battles, including what would come to be known as the Battle of the Bulge, one of the last major German offensives.
"I grew up more," he said of his war experience. "I had more discipline, more respect for people. I was more considerate of others."
By Brigit Benestante
Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Alfredo Santos was ashamed of his ethnicity.
“I didn’t like being a Mexican,” he said. “I was embarrassed, I guess, to be a Mexican.”
By Edwin de la Torre
Experiences change lives forever, and for Graciano Gomez, serving during World War II was the experience he said opened his eyes and mind to a greater picture. After his service he returned with new goals and a greater determination, not only for himself but also for his culture.