Southeast Texas community gathers for late Veterans Day ceremony

PORT ARTHUR – It’s hard to have a more humble start to life than being born in a boxcar in San Antonio on St. Patrick’s Day in 1923 to a mother who didn’t speak English, or a change more important that at 98 years old basking in the appreciation of his community and veterans, but that is the story of Patrick S. Aguilar so far.

In the hall of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Port Arthur, reunited with family, friends and educators who wish to encourage other Mexican-American families to share their stories, Aguilar gratefully accepted the applause and thanks for his service in World War II and the Korean conflict as a sergeant in the United States Air Force and as a staff sergeant in the new United States Air Force United States.

Escorted by his family, including his 4-year-old great-grandson and namesake Patrick Legendre, Aguilar received a plaque commemorating his service and the announcement that November 25 is designated as Patrick S. Aguilar Day in Port Arthur, approved by the harbor Arthur City Council.

It was all part of a belated Veterans Day celebration sponsored by the Lamar University History Department of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Lamar Center for Southeastern History and Culture. Texas and the Upper Gulf Coast.

Aguilar’s story “connects the old generation with a new generation,” said Rebecaa Boone, chair of the Lamar history department.

Its story is that of a sacrifice linking cultures and past centuries.

But it is also a fulfillment of the “promise” that Aguilar’s mother, Melquiadez, made to Our Lady of Guadalupe when she demonstrated her devotion by walking on her knees in prayer from her house to the old church of 15th Street to request safe return. of five of his sons from the world war.

Patrick Aguilar was one of six brothers and four sisters born to Melquiadez and Miguel Aguilar. Five of the brothers will serve in the United States Army during World War II, Patrick being the only one in the United States Air Force, serving in England and France. A brother, Santos, served in the United States Army and fought in New Guinea and the Philippines.

“He came home without a scratch,” said Patrick, who is the only surviving son.

At the mention of the “promise” made by his mother, several heads in the audience nodded and Bishop Emeritus Curtis Guillory of the Diocese of Beaumont cited this act of devotion as God’s power to bring back Aguilar brothers home safely.

“The sacrifices they made and the sacrifices made at home – these had to be his mother’s prayers,” Guillory said.

“History is so important to the Hispanic community and to all minority communities. It is not taught. This is living history.

“We are blessed today because they fought for freedom and justice.”

Joseph Akers, professor of US history at Beaumont United High School, is part of Lamar’s team of graduate students working to save living history from oblivion.

He and Tishia Hubert, assisted by translator Cesar Delgado, strive to preserve the Mexican-American experience of Southeast Texas and focus on the story of Aguilar as a starting point.

“Textbooks are written with a broad hand,” Akers said. “Let’s teach our local students our local history. “

It is also helping to develop a high school curriculum for this purpose, he said.

“Names, places and dates are important, but knowing these local stories helps us to know ourselves, these stories intertwine, intertwine, like intertwined fingers. We have a rich history, and my part is to teach it to future generations. “

Hubert is writing his master’s thesis at Lamar based on the experience of the Aguilar family and on Patrick Aguilar’s service during WWII. She devoted the last year to her research and produced a draft that will become her master’s thesis.

As Hubert presented a plaque to Aguilar, his son Glenn stood by his side as emotion mounted in his father. His great-grandson hugged him.

Aguilar’s granddaughter, Tina Munoz Legendre, said her little boy is now helping his great-grandfather place American flags on the graves of veterans, including those of his brothers.

Members of the Pipkin Park Color Guard and VFW Post No. 5621 of Liberty greeted Aguilar, saying, “Thank you for your service, Sgt. Aguilar, and God bless you, sir.

Dan Wallach is a

freelance writer.

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