Hector Garcia is the person portrayed on the $75 I-Bond. here is some history about him:
–Physician, World War II Veteran, and Humanitarian–
Dr. Hector Garcia was a medical doctor who spent his life working to help the poor, sick, and neglected. Dr. Garcia served in World War II, received the Bronze Star Medal, and became a leading advocate for Mexican-American veterans’ rights. He was an activist in the Latino civil rights movement and founder of the American G.I. Forum, an organization that addresses the health, education, and civil rights of Hispanic veterans. Dr. Garcia was the first Mexican-American to serve on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He received our nation’s highest civil honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1984 from President Ronald Reagan.
Dr. Hector P. Garcia was born in Mexico on January 17, 1914. His family left Mexico because of the revolution and moved to Mercedes, Texas, where they opened a drugstore. Dr. Garcia’s father, author of several books, insisted that his children concentrate on their education. As a result, six of the seven Garcia children completed medical school and became doctors, including Dr. Hector Garcia who earned his medical degree from the University of Texas in 1940.
During World War II, Dr. Garcia served in the Army as an infantry officer, a combat officer and, when the Army finally allowed him to practice medicine, a medical corps officer before being discharged as a Major. Dr. Garcia was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in North Africa and Italy.
Following the war, Dr. Garcia returned to South Texas, marrying Wanda Fusillo, whom he met in Italy. He opened his first medical practice in Corpus Christi, Texas, located next to the U.S. Veterans Administration. Many of his patients were Mexican-American veterans who had fought in the Pacific for the United States but when they returned experienced inferior treatment and segregation.
Dr. Garcia, refusing to overlook the mistreatment of the Mexican-American veterans, founded the American G.I. Forum, designed initially to improve veteran benefits and medical attention. The Forum soon expanded to address a broad range of issues, including education and vocational training, housing, public education, poll taxation, voter registration, hospitalization, and employment. Other veterans advocacy groups existed at the time, but few admitted Mexican-Americans and none pursued their needs, even though 500,000 had served with distinction in World War II.
In 1949, a Funeral Home refused burial rights to a South Texas World War II veteran, Felix Longoria. The Longoria case brought Dr. Garcia and the American G.I. Forum to the national forefront and gave him the first of many humanitarian victories. As a result of Dr. Garcia’s efforts, Felix Longoria was buried in Arlington National Cemetery through the sponsorship of then U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson. Dr. Garcia became the first nationally known Latino civil rights leader.
During the Vietnam War, Dr. Garcia would rise early in the morning to greet the coffins coming back almost daily from Southeast Asia, a gesture of respect from one soldier to another. In memory of his remarkable life, the citizens and business community of Corpus Christi honored him with a statue and named a plaza after him at Texas A&M; University.