The History Area and the Mexican American Studies program honored Dr. Hector P. Garcia at the Creating a Legacy – The Life of Dr. Hector P. Garcia event in the University Center on Sept. 19, 2018. Dr. Thomas Kreneck, head of Special Collections and Archives, spoke about Dr. Garcia’s life and accomplishments.
Decorated war hero, medical doctor and civil rights activist, Dr. Hector P. Garcia is a known historical figure on campus and throughout the community of Corpus Christi. Among his greatest achievements are the founding and directing of the American GI Forum in 1948 and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984. The strides Dr. Garcia made in education and veterans affairs still impact students on campus today.
Kevin Mendoza, History major, is one example of a current student who has directly benefitted from all of Dr. Garcia’s efforts to help not only citizens of Corpus Christi but college students specifically.
“For me, as a Hispanic man and someone who is in the military, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attend college,” said Mendoza. “Everything he did from LULAC to the American GI Forum gave me the opportunity to pursue my education. I probably owe everything I’ve done academically to him. Because of him, I want to continue getting my undergraduate degree, get my master’s in History and teach some form of college level history.”
Sometime after Garcia’s death in 1996, his wife, Mrs. Garcia, generously donated a collection of papers to TAMU-CC. These papers are significant documents from the 1940s and 1950s which recount the events of the founding of the American GI Forum and Dr. Garcia’s numerous other achievements.
In his closing remarks, Kreneck remarked on the legacy Dr. Garcia created through his leadership and his passion.
“Not a self-proclaimed leader. A genuine leader,” said Kreneck. “Someone could elicit applause when he entered a room. Behind the leadership he had boundless energy. It may have been that energy that truly placed him in a league of his own.”
The collection of papers gifted to TAMU-CC are authentic primary and secondary sources that can be used for scholarly research. Dr. Garcia’s collections of papers, documentaries and other materials about his life and achievements can be found at the TAMU-CC Bell Library.