Dr. Hector P. Garcia was a medical doctor who provided health care to thousands. Dr. Hector founded the American G.I. Forum in 1948. The veterans organization worked to defend the rights of Hispanics and other minorities. Dr. Hector won international acclaim in 1949 for resolving the Felix Longoria affair, a case in which a Hispanic veteran was denied burial services by a South Texas funeral home. His other causes included bilingual education, school desegregation, job creation and housing. Dr. Garcia became synonymous with the search for justice and human dignity.
Over the years, Dr. Hector held many official positions for presidents of the United States, including a seat on the National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity, the United States delegation to the United Nations, and the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Dr. Garcia has been honored by Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Carter. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan awarded Dr. Garcia the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to a civilian by the president of the United States. In 1990, Pope John Paul II awarded Dr. Garcia the Equestrian Order of Pope Gregory the Great.
Dr. Hector’s motto, “Education is our Freedom, and Freedom Should be Everybody’s Business,” is inscribed on the front of the statue's pedestal. “He has always been a strong believer in education, in the power of learning to free the mind and uplift the soul,” stated daughter Cecilia. “I know it pleases him to think of this plaza in the years to come being frequented by students, many of them from this area and many of them Hispanic.”
During the ceremony, Plaza Chair Oscar Ortiz announced the creation of the Garcia Scholarship Endowment fund at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The committee had raised $60,000 beyond the $500,000 needed to build the plaza and decided to create a scholarship fund to help students attend A&M-Corpus Christi. The committee will continue raising funds for the scholarship’s endowment.
Dr. Garcia donated his extensive papers to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 1992. Housed in the Special Collections & Archives Department of the Mary and Jeff Bell Library, these papers document Mexican-American history during much of the 20th Century and make A&M-Corpus Christi a center of research on the nation's expanding Hispanic population.
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Dr. Hector P. Garcia Plaza Tile Campaign.
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Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi