Post 41 was organized 75 years ago this month by a group of Latino American veterans who served in World War II. The post has been helping Hispanic veterans and serving the broader Latino community in the fight against discrimination ever since.
Horizonte host, Jose Cardenas, spoke with Robert Hernandez, the past Post commander and the current Post historian.
“Ray Martinez, the founder of Post 41, and a couple of the other founders were actually members of Post 1…Ray Martinez felt that the effort needed to be on the issues that we had, south of Van Buren, and that was the segregation and discrimination, etc.,” said Hernandez.
In an interview Martinez did years ago, he spoke about the segregation issues in Tempe. He had mentioned, “there was poverty, there was segregation, and there was discrimination,” said Hernandez.
One of the first efforts for change made by Post 41, was fighting the policy of “no Mexicans allowed” within Tempe Beach Park.
Then they tacked the issue of segregated housing. When veterans returned from war, there was a “need for mass emergency housing…but the city at the time was going to segregate it,” said Hernandez.
There was one area for European whites, one area for Mexicans and another area for African Americans. The “area they wanted to give to the Mexicans at the time, was actually the old dump site,” said Hernandez.
This issue was brought to the Arizona Supreme Court and Post 41 won.
Martinez organized the American Legion, a War Veteran’s Service Organization, which became “a foundation to be able to fight these issues,” said Hernandez.
Latino veterans returning home were assisted by Martinez and his team. They would get them into schools, get them mortgages, and any benefits still owed to them through the VA.
“The Post was a center piece for all Mexicans. They felt that was their home,” said Hernandez.