CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A new tradition at the Island University honors the life and legacy of Dr. Hector P. Garcia. ROTC Islander Battalion Private First Class Simbai Mutandiro came up with the new practice.
“Each time a uniformed member of the ROTC Islander Battalion should pass though Hector P. Garcia Plaza on campus, they will now stop to salute the Garcia statue,” said Mutandiro, a freshman geophysics major. “This is now an official University tradition. All the documents have been submitted to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and an official standard operating procedure has been made within the ROTC program.”
Mutandiro says the goal of the tradition is to bring together the ROTC unit under the vision of the great leader, and to gain a deeper appreciation for Dr. Garcia and the University as a whole. He says he has the full support of his fellow cadets, including Headquarters Company First Sergeant Tyris Foster, a junior criminal justice major.
“Dr. Hector P. Garcia was completely unknown to me until I arrived at the Island University,” said Foster. “It was not until a history course during my sophomore year that I learned about all that he contributed to the Hispanic movement, things such as the Felix Longoria affair, and the American G.I. Forum.”
Dr. Hector P. Garcia (1914-1996) was a Corpus Christi physician and champion of Mexican-American civil rights. He served in World War II and founded the American GI Forum in 1948 to organize veterans to fight for educational and medical benefits.
The Dr. Hector P. Garcia Plaza, located centrally on the campus of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, was dedicated on June 28, 1996. The colorful plaza includes a stage, covered seating, a fountain, and a 9-foot tall bronze statue of Garcia. The plaza serves as a gathering spot for the campus community for lunch, study sessions, fellowship and organized events. The University community also celebrates Dr. Garcia during Hispanic History Month and on his official state holiday, observed the third Wednesday in September.
In addition to the new ROTC tradition, students also have a tradition of touching the foot of the statue for good luck before tests.