Leno Flores Díaz

By Kathy Adams

As an immigrant from Juarez, Mexico, living in East Los Angeles in the ’20s and ’30s, Leno Flores Díaz remembers going to school in hand-me-downs and feeling ostracized when the teachers anglicized his name.

“They had all kinds of names. They never could pronounce my name. … It was discrimination, racism,” said Díaz, adding later in writing that whenever there was trouble at school, he was always called to the office as a suspect.

Bernarda Lazcano Quintana

By Yazmin Lazcano

As a young girl, Bernarda Quintana and her brothers and sister carried heavy buckets of water to their father, who mixed straw and adobe to create their home in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. When Quintana was 12, her father was shot to death after publicly opposing the 1940 presidential winner. Quintana quit school to help support her family, first by doing odd jobs, then as a seamstress making uniforms for soldiers.

Randel Zepeda Fernández

By Colleen Torma

Randel Zepeda Fernández was only a baby when his family moved from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, and then to Los Angeles. But later, as a young man, his lack of United States citizenship hampered him.

"I couldn't find a good job because I was an alien," Fernández said. "At the time, joining the Armed Forces was the fastest way to become a citizen."

Rudolph S. Tovar

By Nathan Beck

On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Rudolph Tovar was a halfback marching his football team down a Los Angeles football field toward the goal line. Captain of the Verdugo Knights, Tovar and his teammates were informed during a timeout on the sidelines that Pearl Harbor had been bombed early that morning by the Japanese.

The next day, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt had declared war on the Japanese and entered America into World War II, Tovar and his friend, William Rubalcava, traveled to downtown Los Angeles to the Federal Building, to enlist in the Marine Corps.

Robert Leyva

By Andrea R. Williams

In the midst of conflict, Robert Leyva sometimes would think the enemy troops killed in World War II could have been among his friends in another time and place. This kind of love of mankind is a mainstay in Leyva's life.

Leyva was born into poverty in Chihuahua, Mexico, on May 10, 1915, to parents who were poor farm laborers. At age three, he's been told, Leyva's father, Jesus, left the family. At the age of five, his mother, Justina Ovalles Leyva, took his brother, Jesus, and sister, Justina, to El Paso, Texas.

Raúl A Chávez

By Amy Bauer

Aside from a move at 8 months of age, Raul Chavez had never traveled more than the 20 miles from Los Angeles to Catalina Island.

Born on Valentine's Day in 1926 in Chihuahua, Mexico, Chavez moved to East L.A. when he was an infant, during the Great Depression. His father, also named Raul, was a volunteer lieutenant in the California Militia State Guard and, thus, contributed to the war effort.

"I remember when I was going [to war] myself; he got a broomstick out and taught me the Manual of Arms," Chavez said.

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