May 31, 2010

Remembering the Fallen on Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day we pay our respects and remember all those who have given so much in service to our country.

May 27, 2010

Cano Gonzalez Elementary Returns the Favor

Cano Gonzalez Elementary asked me to come view the plaque we donated to the school. The plaque contained a resolution detailing the life and accomplishments of Private Pedro Cano, the gavel that was used to pass the resolution, photos of the late Pedro Cano and a replica of the Distinguished Service Cross he was awarded back in 1946.

After posing for photos I visited many of the classrooms and joined the students for a meal that they collectively made. My thanks and appreciation to all involved, to Principal Thelma Rodriguez and to Ana Jimenez for all she does to the school district.

May 25, 2010

Obama to send troops to US-Mexican border

President Barack Obama plans to send 1,200 National Guard members to the Arizona-Mexico border to help in secure it against illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

Because of the man power shortages I personally witnessed in my several visits to the border patrol, this response is a positive start in the right direction. I applaud the administration for it's decision. We can move towards a safer and more secure border with more boots on the ground.

It should be noted, that this policy decision is but the beginning in a long term multi-faceted response to drugs and the related drug violence that eats away at our larger community.

I would call on President Obama to send additional boots to the Texas/Mexico border in the form of National Guard members or more directly in a larger force of Border Patrol personnel.

May 24, 2010

The Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness: Headin' to Houston

With our first and second successful and productive hearings under our collective belts, the Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness rides off to Houston as we continue collecting testimony on issues, that include but are not limited to, hurricane preparedness and oil related disaster issues.

Both the full committee and the subcommittee chaired by Rep. Tuffy Hamilton (Sub-committee on Hurricanes, Floodings and Evacuations) are tentatively set to hold separate hearings in Houston on June 18 (full committee to start at 10:00 a.m.).

The hearings are scheduled to coincide with the annual Houston/Galveston National Weather Service Hurricane Workshop allowing the committee members an additional resource in hurricane preparation.

The event, the largest of its kind in the nation, had more than 1,500 attendees in 2008 and increased participation is expected this year, which could result in more than 2,500 attendees. The success of the event is due to its partnership with private and public entities from its inception. The free Hurricane Preparedness event has grown and has garnered national attention and recognition for its effort to prepare residents before hurricane season through presentations, interactive exhibits, hurricane season forecasting and more.

Again, the public is invited and I will provide more details as we have them.

May 22, 2010

AT&T Donates 150K To UTPA

On Friday, I joined Senator Hinojosa in thanking AT&T for donating 150,000.00 to UTPA long distance learning program.

Like Crime Itself, the Fight Against Drugs Will Never End

The Monitor newspaper carries a story on the "War on Drugs" and the fundamental debate as to it's final solution, if there is one.

May 19, 2010

Thank You For Honoring Pedro Cano

By Joey Gomez with the Edinburg Daily Review

With the awarding of the state’s highest honor for military service to another Edinburg hero, veterans in the Valley say they are just beginning to get the respect and recognition they deserve.

Local veterans are offering their feedback following Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presentation to the family of Private Pedro Cano, an Edinburg native and WWII Veteran, with the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor on May 18 at the Edinburg Municipal Auditorium.

Edinburg can now be considered the “Hometown for Heroes,” Perry said at the ceremony. Another one of the city’s heroes, Freddy Gonzalez, was given the Medal of Honor in 2008. “It gave us goosebumps,” said Hidalgo County Veterans Services director Emilio de los Santos. “It brought remembrance of all of our fallen soldiers, and it’s very appropriate with Memorial Day approaching. We were overwhelmed with the ceremony, which was very well planned. We applaud Rep. Aaron Peña in doing a magnificent job coordinating the event and taking it through the legislature.”

Some veterans say the award was long overdue.

“We all felt very proud that our area is always well represented in the military, especially in the field of gallantry, but for too many years they have failed to acknowledge the sacrifice of a lot of our men and women who have served from this area,” said Homer Gallegos, chairman of the Veterans Alliance in the Rio Grande Valley. “We were extremely proud of the event, and especially our elected officials going to the extreme of getting this veteran recognized, even though it’s many years after the fact.”

“Hero Street USA is alive in the Rio Grande Valley, and certainly Edinburg demonstrated that last week. It’s alive in every community in the Valley,” Gallegos said.

Other veterans say the award was fitting in an area where many have sacrificed the most, and have received less than in any other part of the country.

“It’s all about the respect that we’re owed, from what we went through, now we are being appreciated, it’s the kind of support we need” said Jose Maria Vasquez, commander of America’s Last Patrol. “We are in the most patriotic part of the country. We love our country and we enjoy the freedoms we have, but we know the cost. Because of this we are willing to sacrifice ourselves and our families. Yet when we come back and they throw us out like a worn out shoe. Where is the hospital, where is the respect we need. We have sacrificed the most, and got the least than any other part of the country.”

Veterans in Edinburg say they are proud to see ‘one of their own’ being awarded with the state’s highest honor.

“What happened, how come people didn’t know that much about Mr. Cano. He was actually forgotten for a long time and he was definitely a true hero. I really enjoyed it,” said Gus Garcia, commander of Edinburg’s American Legion Post 408. “I think when the governor said Edinburg was a ‘city of heroes’. We were very proud to see one of our own, one of our comrades, to be honored the way he was. I think from what I have seen, I think he deserves a Medal of Honor.”

Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, state Reps. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, Veronica Gonzalez, D-Mcallen, Edinburg mayor Richard Garcia, and top administrators from Edinburg CISD were also in attendance.

Students from Cano-Gonzalez Elementary also provided patriotic entertainment for visitors. The family of Pedro Cano included his sister, his two eldest daughters and his nephew.

“It has been a two year quest for myself to find his children and bring attention to his life and service,” said Peña, who authored HR 1427 in the Texas House of Representatives during the 81st Legislative Session in order for Cano to be considered for the award.

Pedro Cano was born in La Morita, Nuevo Leon, Mexico on July 7, 1920 and moved to Edinburg when he was only two months old. April 26th was named Pedro Cano Day in 1946 when over 4,000 people gathered to see him receive the Purple Heart, two Silver Stars and a Distinguished Service Cross for his valor during the Liberation of Paris.

Cano died tragically in an automobile crash in 1953.

More than 63 years later, Edinburg gathered at City Hall’s West Side Plaza to remember and honor Pedro Cano’s life and service to our country.

“History is in the faces of those serving (in the Armed Forces),” Perry said at the event. “Let this be a persistent reminder of the sacrifice and valor he (Cano) displayed for America’s freedom”.

May 18, 2010

Governor Perry Presents Texas Medal of Honor

Visiting the Cano Gravesite

This morning I joined members of the immediate Cano family at the grave site of Pedro Cano. It was a solemn and touching occasion.

A Soldier's Recognition Brings A Family Together

I had the pleasure in meeting Private Pedro Cano's children and family last night at a banquet in his honor. It has been a two year quest for myself to find his children and bring attention to his life and service. After finding his vandalized grave site I grew concerned when I noted that his wife and family where not living in the area nor buried near him. Were the children compelled to return to Mexico with their mother? Did the absence of a father for the three young children affect their upbringing?

Those questions were answered last night as I observed a healthy, close and loving family. Even better they had survived and flourished. Last night family members that had not met each other because of a tragedy that had occurred over sixty years ago, came together to reconnect.

Here in the photo, Pedro's eldest child Dominga, shows me her father's purple heart medal and the distinguished service cross medal.

At 2:30 today the Texas Governor presents the children with the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor.

As many of a discussed this family and that of Pedro Cano is ripe for a book to be written on their lives. Today, we write one of the ending chapters.

All are invited to Edinburg's City Hall for the medal presentation.

Emergency Preparedness: A Productive Hearing

We had a good hearing of the House Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness yesterday. We focused on the BP oil spill, hurricanes and border security.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson came before us and explained that the Texas Gulf Coast is likely to see little impact from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico unless there are significant changes in current or wind speed.

The Monitor covered the event.

May 16, 2010

Up Close and Personal on the Border

Hours ago members of the Texas Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness traveled down to personally witness and examine the work our border patrol and law enforcement agents confront on the Rio Grande River.

Our thanks to the pilots and patrol boat agents for providing valuable lessons on the issues confronting our country and the brave men and women charged in it's defense.

Your service is greatly appreciated.

Border Security High On the Agenda

This Monday, May 17, the Texas Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness will hold it's second hearing at the new McAllen Convention Center and will again tackle the critical issue of border security.

My committee members are due to arrive today to our ever growing and valued border community in order confront the scourge of violence and corruption that has plagued our neighboring communities only a few miles to our south. It is our charge to examine the critical evidence, find workable solutions and to report back to our legislative body for action.

The committee's presence on the border could not have come at a more critical time as recent unconfirmed reports describe an increase in cartel violence minutes away from that examination.

As The Fort Worth Star Telegram and The Monitor describe the hearing will also examine the relevant topics of hurricanes, in that hurricane season approaches and the State Hurricane Conference is being conducted in the same location as the committee hearing and the BP Gulf Oil Spill.

The committee hearing will first hear from Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson at approximately 10 a.m. in order to examine the latest information regarding the oil spill with particular emphasis as to it's effects on Texas. Obvious questions will arise with regard to the federal response to date.

At last report, the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico remains at least 150 miles from Texas waters and is at this point not making much progress toward the state's coastline.

Following that testimony, the committee will move on to the subject of emergency preparations for what is expected to be a busy hurricane season. Lastly, sometime near the lunch period, we will move on to the pressing issue of border violence.

The public is invited and admittance is free. Please feel free to come as my guest.

Chief Jack Colley, Texas Division of Emergency Management

Jack Colley, Chief of the Division of Emergency Management at the Texas Department of Public Safety, who testified at our first hearing of the Texas Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness and had planned to come to McAllen, will not be attending Monday's hearing. Chief Colley had recently suffered a heart attack and is prevented from attending the hearing.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Chief Colley and his family at this difficult time. We thank the Chief his contributions to the State of Texas and commit to continue his work in his absence.

May 13, 2010

Remembering Pedro Cano

Remembering Pedro Cano, with a framed memorial that the Cano family and I are donating to our community. The governor will be here on Tuesday, May 18th at the Edinburg Municipal Auditorium. All are invited.

May 12, 2010

Final Preparations For Pedro Cano Ceremony

I had a final run through with city staff, and the heads of local law enforcement and the fire department for the upcoming visit by the Texas Governor in respect to the life of Private Pedro Cano.

The ceremony is to take place on Tuesday, May 18th at the Edinburg Municipal Auditorium and all are invited.

Who was Pedro Cano?

Pedro Cano was born June 19, 1920 in La Morita, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. He moved to the United States into the small community of Edinburg, Texas when he was 2 years old. There he served as a farm laborer until he was called up to serve in the Army during World War II. As a private, he was deployed to the European theater to serve with the 4th Infantry Division where he engaged in battles both in France and in Germany. He exhibited extraordinary courage and valor in battle and later sustained injuries that left him permanently disabled. He returned to South Texas to join his wife and children and resumed his work as a farm laborer.[1]

Private Cano received two Silver Star medals, a Purple Heart, and a Distinguished Service Cross.

Cano achieved his longest-lasting ambition, to become an American citizen, in May 1946. He died six years later on June 24, 1952 at the age of 31 in a tragic automobile accident. He left a wife and three children.

On Tuesday Governor Perry will present the Cano children, the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor on behalf of their father. The medal is the highest military decoration that may be awarded by the State of Texas. It is designated by a concurrent resolution of the Legislature. It is awarded to a member of the state or federal military forces who voluntarily performs a deed of personal bravery or self-sacrifice involving risk of life that is so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the person for gallantry and intrepidity.

You may remember that we previously secured the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor for another Edinburg hero, Freddy Gonzalez. Edinburg now boasts the distinction of being the only city in Texas with two recipients of our state's highest military honor which has been awarded to six serviceman prior to Cano.

Everyone is invited to the free event. Please come as my guest.

May 10, 2010

Planting Trees in The Delta

I had the pleasure to participate in a tree planting and dedication ceremony outside our Edcouch office at the Mercado Delta. The board of the Mercado Delta and the community are building a large community garden. TXU Energy did a good bit of corporate citizenship in donating a large number of trees for the gardens and some of our local students as they learned about the value of trees and our environment.

One of my jobs today was to pass out small oak trees to the students. Hopefully they take them home to beautify their homes and the larger community.

I extend the community's appreciation to TXU Energy as well as to the board of the Mercado Delta. My thanks also goes to the congressman's office and that of my own staff. Great project! Great event!

May 7, 2010

Our Next Generation of Money Managers are at La Joya High School

I am proud of the kids and their teacher Albert Garza over at La Joya High School for placing third in the state in this year's stock market competition.

Julián Castro: "The Post-Hispanic Hispanic Politician"

My good friends the Castro brothers, Julián and Joaquin, are here photographed with me on the Speaker's rostrum on the floor of the Texas House earlier this year. One is a respected state representative from San Antonio, the other is the Mayor of San Antonio.

The New York Times has a good feature piece on Mayor Julián Castro and the young mayor's prospects. "The Post-Hispanic Hispanic Politician" tells the story of the promise of a young leader like Julián and the pitfalls that have befallen earlier promising leaders in the Hispanic community.

A good story about a very promising political figure. Let us hope for the best. I have great hopes for both of the Castro brothers. They are as humble as they are intelligent.

As an aside, it should be noted that the potential of this emerging population, like the larger population, rests not on a singular figure but in the education and cultivation of individuals from a diverse population filled with promise and potential. I have no doubt each of these fine men will take part in that effort.