Dr. Garcia dedicated his life to the practice of medicine, political activism, and public service. His accomplishments can be counted in the dozens of awards he received for these efforts—including the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom—but also in the thousands of lives he made better. Today, Dr. Garcia’s family remains dedicated to preserving and perpetuating his incredible legacy. Their efforts ensure that his impact will be felt for generations to come.
Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom
On March 26, 1984, President Ronald Reagan presented Dr. Garcia with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, making him the first Mexican American to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor. The award citation acknowledged that Dr. Garcia’s work had not only impacted the lives of Mexican Americans, but that “through his efforts… he has made this a better country.”
Celebrating His Achievements
Throughout his life and after his death, Dr. Garcia received countless awards and honors that stand in testament to the change he brought about in Corpus Christi, in Texas, and beyond. From medals from foreign countries to schools named in his honor, these accolades acknowledge his role as one of the most effective civil rights leaders in American history.
Preserving His Life's Work
In 1982, Dr. Garcia began to donate his personal papers to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Wanda Garcia continued to make donations after Dr. Garcia’s death on July 26, 1996. In addition to preserving and providing access to the valuable collection, the University honored Dr. Garcia’s legacy with the 1996 dedication of the Hector P. Garcia Plaza, a campus gathering spot that includes a statue of the civil rights activist.