Ken Burns and the Latino protest


My Uncle Joseph Rodriguez's name is in the middle of this picture of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

There is no doubt that Ken Burns makes some fine documentaries. That would explain why there was a protest for the inclusion of Latinos. Well, the impact of the protests affected the content of the final version of “The War” by Ken Burns and now Latinos are mentioned in the documentary.

I don’t often think about Mexicans in war except in the Mexican Revolution or Vietnam. The Mexican Revolution is part of the Mexican psyche even for those who were too young to recall it. I always recall Vietnam because I met some of these veterans when they returned from Vietnam. My Uncle Joseph died in Vietnam in 1968 and I remember going to his funeral thinking that I would someday have to go to Vietnam, too. Well, all this reminded me of my father-in-law Louis L. Chávez when he lived with us while I was still married. He was proud that his grandfather had been a general in President Porfirio Díaz’s army. However, when the Mexican Revolution began, his grandfather and family escaped to Chicago where they had family. Louis had his grandfather’s commission papers for general signed by Porfirio Díaz himself. Well, during WWII, Louis enlisted in the army was immediately shipped to Europe where he was an MP in a prisoner of war camp. One day, one of the German prisoners, was saying something in German to Louis, which he didn’t understand. Finally, the German prisoner spoke to Louis in Spanish because the prisoner thought he looked Mexican. So Louis carried a short conversation with this prisoner in Spanish. It turns out that the German prisoner was living in Argentina, but was drafted by Hitler. The German prisoner referred to the Fuhrer as “ese maldito Hitler” [“that damn Hitler”].

Well, there were plenty of Mexicans in WWII, but not many people know about them, so Ken Burns should at least make a passing mention of them.

Ten-Hut!

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David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.

I write about whatever comes to mind. También enseño español y escribo acerca de los mexicanos y la enseñanza del español.