The American GI Forum (AGIF) was founded on March 1948 in Corpus Christi, Texas
by Dr. Hector Perez Garcia, an Army Medical Doctor. Dr. Garcia returned from World War II proud of his accomplishments and eager to participate in the American Dream.
All of these events took place in medical clinic. To his dismay, he witnessed and experienced what Hispanic servicemen across the country were encountering in the pursuit of the
American Dream—deeply rooted prejudice. With nothing more than his determination to overcome these injustices, he successfully formed the American GI Forum, a formidable and patriotic organization. Through it, he helped break down many of the barriers all Hispanic Americans faced in a country that embraced the principles of freedom and justice, but only offered them to a select few.
His friends ranged from Presidents to the average individual. His leadership and his work led to several high-level appointments by U.S. Presidents including an Ambassadorship to the United Nations. On March 26, 1984, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the nation's highest civilian medal, the Presidential Medal of
Freedom. It was an honor worthy of a man who knows very keenly the meaning of freedom.
Dr. Hector P. Garcia passed away on July 26, 1996, but many reminders of his legacy exist for future generations to remember his work. In his honor on the campus of Texas A & M Corpus Christi - stands a statue of Dr. Hector P. Garcia in the plaza named in his honor. It was unveiled a few weeks before his death. Many schools, post offices, government buildings and libraries throughout the state and country bear his name. Most recently a National Guard Armory was re-named in his honor.
He was a humble man enjoying the company of family members and friends. He believed in including everyone and respected and valued each individual.