Thursday, May 22, 2014

Medal of Honor, Memorial Day Ceremony, American Heroes, Manuel Perez Jr., Guy Gabaldon, Smith Park, David R. Ramos, Calendar of Events

Medal of Honor
                 A TRIBUTE:
I have been asked many times if I’m a veteran. People ask because I often write about our brave men and women who have served in the military. But, the answer is, no. I'm not a veteran, however, I hold the highest regard for those who are currently serving or have served. Our service men and women are committed to protect us, protect our country and our democracy even if it means giving their life. These Americans protect us 24 hours a day. We owe them all a debt of gratitude; and we must support them at all cost.
                  A SALUTE: Officers and members of the Manuel Perez Jr. American Legion Post 1014, Mexican American Veteran Association [MAVA] and American Veterans [AMVETS] will pay homage to the soldiers who have died in battle. The celebration will take place on Memorial Day Monday, May 26, 2014. Private first class, Manuel Perez Jr., received the Medal of Honor for his bravery in WWII.
PFC Manuel Perez Jr.
on Memorial Day will start promptly at 10:30 a.m. at the Manuel Perez Jr. Memorial Plaza, 26th St.. Kolin Ave. in Little Village. Homage will be given to those men and women who died to defend our freedom. There will be brief remarks given by each commander of their respective organization. The public is cordially invited, especially veterans and their families. After the ceremony, guests will be served 300 tamales, coffee and cake. I will mount 15 American flags at the entrance of the plaza.
                FACES OF HONOR: On Tuesday, March 18, 2014, President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to 24 veterans who were passed over due to discrimination. The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in combat given to a soldier. In reviewing military records in 2013, it was discovered that 17 Hispanic soldiers should have received the Medal of Honor.
                 PRESIDENT Barack Obama honored those 17 Hispanic Army veterans with the Medal of Honor. For service in World War II: Pvt. Pedro Cano, Pvt. Joe Gandara, Staff Sgt. Salvador Lara, Master Sgt. Manuel Mendoza. For service in Korean War: Sgt. Victor Espinoza, Sgt. 1st Class Eduardo Gomez, Master Sgt. Juan Negron, Master Sgt. Mike Pena, Pfc. Demensio Rivera, Pvt. Miguel Vera. For service in Vietnam War: Spc. Leonard Alvarado, Staff Sgt. Felix Conde-Falcon, Sgt. Ardie Copas, Sgt. Jesus Duran, Sgt. Santiago Erevia, Sgt. Candelario Garcia and Master Sgt. Jose Rodela. President Obama said the medal is the highest military award, given to American soldier who displayed “gallantry above and beyond the call of duty” for their combat actions in Vietnam, Korea and World War II. Most of the recipients are Mexican-American and deceased. All are American heroes.
Guy Gabaldon
          PASSED OVER: Guy Gabaldon
[1926-2006], a Mexican-American was a former United States Marine who, at age 18, captured roughly 1,500 Japanese soldiers and civilians during the battles for Saipan and Tinian islands in 1944 during World War II. Gabaldon was not ungraded.
                 GABALDON captured 1,500 Japanese soldiers single-handed. By his heroism, Guy saved the lives of hundreds of American soldiers. He is the only American soldier who ever captured so many of the enemy. Sgt. Alvin C. York, one of the most decorated American soldiers in World War I, received the Congressional Medal of Honor for capturing, with the help of seven other American soldiers, 132 of the enemy.
                MOVIE STAR, Jeffery Hunter, played Guy Gabaldon in the movie “Hell to Eternity”. It was reported Hollywood could not find a Mexican actor to play Gabaldon. Gabaldon was raised in East Los Angeles, California and he spoke fluent Japanese. The story is a Japanese couple raised him, as their own, because his Mexican mother, who was deported to Mexico, gave Guy to them. Another story is that Guy lived near Little Tokyo in L.A. and learned Japanese. He loved the Japanese people and even married a Japanese woman. His friends called him “Gabby.”
                PRESIDENT OBAMA should have upgraded GUY GABALDON for a Medal of Honor. Guy is a real American Hero.

L-R: Travis Bogle, Smith Park Supervisor; Past SPAC President Erich Muellner
and SPAC President David R. Ramos
          SMITH PARK: David R. Ramos, incoming President of the Smith Park Advisory Council, 2526 West Grand Ave. presented a plaque to outgoing president Erich Muellner. Outgoing President Muellner was honored on May 6, 2014 at the Smith Park Field House. Muellner is a long-time resident of the West Town/Ukrainian Village. He served from January 2012 to December 2013.
               MUELLNER decided not to seek re-election due to his family moving to the North side of Chicago. “My heart is still with Smith Park, this is where my young children learned to take their first steps and learned how to ride a bicycle,” said Muellner.
               RAMOS is a Chicago Police Officer for 20 years, and was the former Department of Homeland Security Chief for Chicago-Cook County. He served as the past President of the Chicago Grand Neighbors Association and brings a wealth of knowledge to Smith Park. Congrats to all.

                                                   CALENDAR OF EVENTS
             JUNE/JUNIO 7, 2014—“Rummage Sale/Venta de Garaja” at Joseph E. Gary Elementary, 3740 W. 31st St. from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Cost space: $10. Admission is free. For questions/preguntas: Call the school/ Llame la escuela 773/534-1455.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Housing Matters, LV Public Housing Project, ENLACE, Boxing, Jose Felix Quezada, Memorial Day, Calendar of Events, Veteran Job Fair, Rotary Gala Event

          UPDATE: The strong opposition by the residents and business community of Little Village against the public housing project which Ald. Ricardo Munoz [22nd Ward] wants to build is falling on deaf ears. Munoz, the Alderman for 21 years, obviously doesn't care about the youth in the Little Village community, a predominantly Mexican neighborhood. We must help, protect, and give our youth a safe haven and, to some extent, give them opportunities to do more with their lives. Gang affiliation should not be the only choice, besides too many of our young people in Little Village have been killed because of gang violence.
               ALDERMAN Munoz has failed to address this issue [gang violence] for the past 21 years. Yes, he has admitted he was a former Latin King which should make this issue a priority for him in his community. Except it appears Munoz cares more about housing; he wants a public housing project in Little Village. But what about the young people who already live in Little Village? As an ex-gang member and Alderman shouldn’t Munoz use his influence and community dollars for a more constructive purpose? The Little Village area needs a youth center, a soccer field or a park for the children and teenagers. Four years ago, Munoz promised the community a park. What happened to that promise?
              A NEWS RELEASE: Mike Rodriguez, Executive Director of Chicago Enlace organization sent out a news release on Thursday, April 17, 2014 to announce that “Father” Jose S. Landaverde was holding a press conference at 11:00 a.m. to support Munoz's Public Housing project.
               HERE'S WHAT Mike Rodriguez [Enlace] said in his press release: “Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission and the community in LittleVillage is calling a press conference in support of Mercy Housing development for 26th and Kostner. It is time for affordable housing in LittleVillage. We are supporting Alderman Ricardo Munoz in this effort to bring affordable housing to our community because decent, safe housing is a human right. Those who are opposing this development are demonstrating a lack of concern for the most basic human rights of people experiencing poverty, homelessness and marginalization. We have a dream that this development can be, for African-American and Latino community, and for all people in homelessness, a place of dignity where the residents can rebuild their lives, begin to realize their dreams and potential, and be full and contributing members of the Little Village Community.”
              LANDAVERDE is not a Roman Catholic priest but of the protestant denomination. He does, however, wear a white collar. Out of curiosity, I called Landaverde after the press conference and asked him how many people attended his press conference. “Eleven [11] people,” said Landaverde.
            THE TRUTH? Here's what Rodriguez said on Spanish TV Univision: “There is a housing crisis in Little Village.” 
          WHAT CRISIS? I have lived in Little Village for 35 years and I have never seen a Mexican person holding up a cardboard sign saying, “I'm Homeless”, or standing on a street corner  holding out a styrofoam cup—begging for change. I've never seen a Mexican person in Little Village sleeping on an Ad bench, in a doorway, under a viaduct or on a sidewalk. Why? Because of Mexican pride! It is in our ethnic fiber to work hard and be self-sufficient. Mike Rodriguez's public statements are absurd, ridiculous and, more importantly, misleading!
              IN LITTLE VILLAGE, there are plenty of houses for sale and plenty of apartments “For Rent”. As I said once before, most Mexicans are homeowners. The Little Village Community Council and HOPE organization advocates home ownership. Home ownership is the real dream of most parents. Parents want their children to have a better life then they themselves have had. This starts with a home and a safe neighborhood. Safety and security are basic concerns of residents and we should all strive to make our community a decent and safe place to live! Bringing in affordable housing is not the way to achieve that goal. I know it, Enlace knows it, and Munoz knows it!
          BOXING: Professional boxer Jose Felix Quezada was born January 6, 1995 in Chicago. His parents, Jose and Eileen Quezada, met while his father was overseas in the Marine Corps in the Philippines. He is the youngest sibling of 3, with 2 older sisters. His nationality includes Mexican [paternal] and Filipino [maternal]; proud to represent both. He comes from a boxing family, his father, Jose Quezada, and his uncle, Julian Quezada, were bother boxers.
Jose Felix Quezada [black trunks]
           JOSE FELIX graduated from Alan B. Shepard High School in Palos Heights, IL in May 2013. In sport activities he obtained the rank of 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo in 2005 and participated in baseball, football and basketball. He played short-stop with the Merrionette Park Express Travel Baseball Team and the Oak Lawn Chargers Travel Baseball Team.
               FELIX has over 100 fights in his amateur career. He trains and fights with the Scottsdale Park Boxing Team [Chicago Park District]. At the age of 8, Jose was introduced to boxing and has taken on the boxing ambition. His boxing memorable awards and titles includes State Silver Gloves Champion [3 times]; Chicago Citywide Champ [3 times]; Regional Silver Gloves Champ [2 times]; 2009 Silver Gloves ranked #8 in the 90 lbs. weight division; 2009 National Jr. Golden Gloves Champ.
                TWO TIMES runner up for the Chicago Golden Gloves and awarded the 2008 Scottsdale Park Boxer of the year. He began his professional career with his first professional fight on February 7, 2014. He won with a TKO in the 3rd round. His boxing record: 2-0 with 2 TKO's. Coach Rick Fornuto said, "Jose is a champ."
                MEMORIAL DAY: Officers and members of the Manuel Perez Jr. American Legion Post 1017, Mexican American Veteran Association [MAVA] and American Veterans [AMVETS] cordially invite all veterans, families and community to join them on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26th at 10:30 a.m. at the Manuel Perez Jr. Memorial Plaza, 26th St. & Kolin Ave. in Little Village.
               AFTER THE ceremony guests will be served tamales, coffee and cake. For more information call 773/522-9315 or log on

                                             CALENDAR OF EVENTS

               WEDNESDAY, MAY 21st—Veteran Job Fair in Cicero hosted by Central State SER Cicero Workforce Center, 2138 S. 61st Ct., 3rd Floor, Cicero, IL 60804.

          THURSDAY, JUNE 5th—Little Village Rotary Club, 1st Inaugural Gala Event at Mi Tierra Restaurant, 2528 S. Kedzie Ave., Chicago. Fun starts at 6 p.m.: cocktails, dinner reception and installation of officers. Guest speaker: Anita Alvarez, Cook County State's Attorney. Donation $50. For more info purchasing of tickets online:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Trip to Italy, Papal Canonization, Vatican City, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII, Sainthood, Passion Reenactment, Cicero Democrats, Art Exhibit: Carlos & Dominguez. Happy Mother's Day

Saint Pope John Paul II
          I WAS GLUED to the TV watching the Papal Canonization of both Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII being elevated to Sainthood from Vatican City on Sunday, April 27, 2014. Seeing Vatican City brought back several fond memories. Ten years ago, August 2004, I took eight members of my family to Rome, Italy. I wanted my family to see Rome, Florence, and Venice staying in each city for a week. However, my main purpose for going to Italy was to see Pope John Paul II; and we did. It was a trip of a lifetime.

          WHILE PLANNING the trip I was able to reserve eight audience tickets to see Pope John Paul II; he held audiences with the public every Wednesday at the Vatican. On the day we were to have an audience with the Pope I received a call from a Sister informing me that he was very ill and we would not be able to see him in Vatican City. She did say we could go and see him at his summer home, Castel Gandolfo. We quickly found out where Castel Gandolfo was and how to get there by bus.
           WHEN WE got to the bus stop the line was already long and we were nervous about making it onto the bus. Two buses had already left the station without my family; but luckily a third bus came along. It was an odd sight because the bus was packed with brides and grooms. [It is tradition for the Pope to bless couples that married throughout the year.] A bride asked us where we wanted to go. We told her Castel Gandolfo and she said we were on the right bus.
Saint Pope John XXIII
          WE FOLLOWED the couples through the small town and entered Castel Gandolfo’s courtyard as we passed the Swiss Guards. The crowd was approximately 300. From a decorated platform and surrounded by several clergymen, Pope John Paul II talked to the crowd for over an hour. He spoke in Polish, Italian, French, English and Spanish. Pope John Paul II blessed us several times and he said his blessings included members of our family, our children and their children’s, children. He also blessed any religious articles and photos we had in our possession. Sadly, one could see how weak Pope John Paul II was as he struggled with his words.
          THE ATMOSPHERE was electrifying! People from all over the world were genuinely ecstatic to see their ‘Papa’. They clapped and cheered for him. A Boy Scout band played music and I asked the Scout Master where they were from and he proudly said, “We are from Bethlehem were Jesus was born.”
          WHILE IN Rome, we visited St. Peter's Square, heard Mass and received Holy Communion at St. Peter's Basilica, toured the tomes of Popes buried underground, saw the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo, the Roman Coliseum and the Catacombs. Our visit to Rome was awesome!
           SEEING Pope John Paul II canonized as a Saint was exciting too and I can say I saw, in person, a living Saint, Saint Pope John Paul II.
Jesus is whipped carrying the cross.
          PASSION REANACTMENT: On Good Friday, April 18, 2014, five Catholic churches in Little Village St. Agnes, Good Shepherd, Epiphany, St. Roman and Our Lady of Tepeyac joined together to sponsor “Via Crucis de La Villita” the reenactment of the Passion of Jesus Christ. The procession began with parishioners walking from 26th St. & Sacramento Ave. west to 26th St. & Kostner Ave. The crowd estimate was five thousand [5,000] Mexican Catholics (men, women and children) walking in the procession. “This was a spiritual event for the community and churches; it opens the doors for the parishes to work together in other things,” said Martin Encisco, a Deacon at Good Shepherd Church.
           THE REENACTMENT BEGAN at the time “Jesus” [Jaime Nieto] was taken by Roman soldiers and presented before Pontius Pilate. The criminal, “Barabbas”, stood next to Jesus when Pilate asked the crowd whom should he free. The group [actors and actresses dressed in costumes] shouted “Barabbas.” The Roman soldiers put “thorns” on Jesus' head and began pushing him to carry the wooden cross and “whipping” him. Jesus was being whipped as he carried the cross [1.8 miles] for the crucifixion.
          DEACON ENCISCO said “Via Crucis de LaVillita” will become an annual event in Little Village during Lent. The five churches, parishioners, coordinators and actors did an outstanding job.

                                   CICERO REGULAR DEMOCRATIC
Left to right: Ruth Ortega, Secretary; Jesus Ramirez, Treasurer; Griselda Delgado,
Vice-President; Ivan Garajas, President; Joseph Gotch, Sgt-at-Arms; Elizabeth "Lisa"
 Hernandez, Charles G. Hernandez.
          CICERO DEMOCRATS: Charlie Hernandez, Democratic Committee of the Town of Cicero held a special meeting on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 to elect new officers of the Cicero Regular Democratic Organization. Invited guest speaker was August Sallas a life-long Democrat.
           STATE REPRESENTATIVE Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez, a Cicero Democrat, also spoke to the party members about the goals of the Democrats in Cicero. Charlie and Lisa congratulated the newly elected officers.
          ART EXHIBIT: Carlos & Dominguez Fine Arts Gallery is presenting two internationally known Mexican artists: Hector Duarte, from Michocan, and Jesus Acuna, from Zacatecas. The opening reception will be Saturday, May 24, 2014, from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Carlos & Dominguez Fine Arts Gallery, 1538 W. Cullerton St., Chicago. For more info call Len Dominguez 773/580-8053.