Latino Honors: Who The U.S. Government Should Recognize Now

Nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette recently wrote a piece asking why the U.S. keeps naming things like streets and more recently, a Navy ship, after Cesar Chavez (who also has a postage stamp).

Chavez, the Mexican American union leader who helped farm workers get their rights for the first time, definitely deserves to be honored, but why doesn’t the U.S. honor more Latinos?

Who else could the government consider when christening ships, naming federal buildings, streets and buildings and issuing postage stamps? Here’s a list of people who should get big-time props!

1. Latino Honors: Desi Arnaz

Desi Arnaz
The Cuban American musician and TV pioneer made several Hollywood innovations, including the use of the three-camera set up (which became the standard for sitcoms), the use of film so that audiences around the country could have hgh-quality images and the presence of a live audience on a soundstage. Quite simply, he helped transform TV into an enduring entertainment medium. There’s an I Love Lucy stamp, but where’s Arnaz’s stand alone?

2. Latino Honors: The Borinqueneers

The Borinqueneers
Formally known as the 65th Infantry Regiment, this all-volunteer Puerto Rican regiment of the U.S. Army participated in both world wars and the Korean War. They fired the first shot of WWI when a German supply ship tried to force its way out of the San Juan Bay, earned 90 Purple Hearts, 22 Bronze Stars and 2 Silver Stars in WWII and distinguished themselves in the Korean War as well. Outside of Puerto Rico, there has been no public acknowledgement of the Borinqueneers. They need a tank named after them, pronto.

3. Latino Honors: Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez

Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez
It’s great that the parents who spearheaded the fight to integrate Orange County, and eventually, California schools (in a case that set a precedent for for Brown v. Board of Education) are on a postage stamp celebrating the Mendez v. Westminster case. Now, how about cementing their importance by naming new computer labs that Obama has placed in Latino communities nationwide after them?

4. Latino Honors: Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa
Yes, the first Latina astronaut to go to space is still alive (and is the deputy director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston) but hey, she’s a scientist not a drug-addled rock star, so it’s probably a pretty safe bet that she’s not going to embarrass the government later on if they name something after her now. So how about a building at NASA?

5. Latino Honors: Guy Gabaldon

PFC. Guy Gabaldon
Nicknamed the “Pied Piper of Saipan,” the Mexican American soldier singlehandedly persuaded 1,500 Japanese soliders to surrender, first by secretly sneaking out of camp, finding the soldiers and using his street Japanese to talk to them, and then, when his superiors found out, with their OK. His acts helped the U.S. gain a foothold in a slice of Japan from which they could invade. His superiors nominated him for a Medal of Honor, but shockingly, he was not awarded one. Instead, he received a Silver Star and decades later, a Navy Cross. How about honoring him with a Landing Craft Unit Gabaldon, Army?

6. Latino Honors: Related Links