February 19, 2017

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Maggie Van Ostrand

Is A Wall Between the U.S. and Canada Being Discussed?

by Maggie Van Ostrand

Dateline February 13, 2017 — President Trump today talked with Canadian P.M. Justin Trudeau about the U.S. and Canada having gone to war together, shedding blood together, and other grateful observations. He said nothing about putting up a wall between our countries. Why would he want to do that? And why does he want to put one up between our other neighbor and ally, Mexico?


Doesn't the President know that the U.S. and Mexico also went to war together and shed blood together? Yet they get a wall? Had a wall been there already, the Mexicans who came to the U.S. and helped us in 2005 when Katrina hit Louisiana, wouldn't have been able to get their convoy of food trucks in, or their tanks to help clear the destruction and save U.S. lives.


The President may not know that Mexico declared war on the Axis powers on June 11, 1942, and they put their men where their collective mouth was. 


Mexico organized the elite Esquadron Aero de Cza 201, also known as the Fighting 201st. Thirty-five officers and 300 enlisted men were trained in Mexico, then given additional flight training as P-47 fighter squadron at Pocatello Army Air Base in Idaho, after which they were attached to the 58th Fighter Group in the Philippines where they began combat operations. They wiped out machine gun nests, dropped 181 tons of bombs and fired 153,000 rounds of ammunition, acquitting themselves well and bravely. Seven of their pilots were killed in action.


The President may not know about Hero Street, U.S.A. In a town called Silvis, just west of Chicago, runs a street once named Second Street. It's not much of a street, not even two blocks long, muddy in spring, icy in winter, dusty in summer. On this single street, 105 men participated in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. It's the street where Joe Gómez, Peter Macías, Johnny Muños, Tony Pompa, Claro Solíz, and Frank, Joseph, and William Sandoval grew up together. They worked for the railroad, like their fathers who had emigrated from Mexico. These young men, raised to revere freedom, went to war without hesitation. 


The two Sandoval families alone sent thirteen; six from one family; seven from the other. According to the U.S. Defense Department, this little street contributed more men to military service than any other place of comparable size in the United States, standing alone in American military history.


In a letter to Frank Sandoval, Claro Solíz described Second Street as ". . . Really not much, just mud and ruts, but right now to me it is the greatest street in the world." He never saw it again. Not one of these boys came home alive.


In honor of their supreme sacrifice, a monument listing the name of each man now stands in Silvis, Illinois. Second Street has been officially renamed Hero Street USA. Next time you're in the Midwest, you might want to visit this street of heroes just to say thank you.


And the President may not know what Mexico did for the U.S. during the tragedy of 2005's Hurricane Katrina. There was a time in history when Mexico was accused by a U.S. NAFTA-opposed politician of making "giant sucking sounds." Well, folks, the giant noises that came from Mexico during the Katrina tragedy were not giant sucking sounds, they were giant rumbling sounds, and they came from a Mexican Army convoy of 45 vehicles driving north to help the U.S. in its time of crisis. 


The convoy included military engineers, doctors, nurses, two mobile kitchens that could feed 7,000 people each per day, three flatbed trucks carrying mobile water treatment plants, and 15 trailers of bottled water, blankets and applesauce. These vehicles, manned by 200 soldiers, officers and specialists, carried water treatment plants, mobile kitchens and supplies to feed the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Mexico also sent a Mexican Navy ship steaming toward the Mississippi coast with rescue vehicles and helicopters.


As water rose over the rooftops of New Orleans, the Mexican Army prepared to do battle on our behalf. For the first time since 1846, Mexican military units operated on U.S. soil, as Mexican Army trucks and tractor trailers convoyed north, with Mexican flags taped to the roof tops of the 45 vehicles. They were not stopped by a wall.


The Mexicans set up consular offices in trailers around the disaster zone to help their estimated 140,000 countrymen living in the region, 10,000 of them in New Orleans. They served 170,000 meals. In addition, help was offered by a search-and-rescue group called "topos" - (moles) - organized by youths who dug through collapsed buildings after Mexico City's 1985 earthquake.


"This is the first time that the United States has accepted a military mission from Mexico" for such work, said Javier Ibarrola, a newspaper columnist who covers military affairs in Mexico. "This is something that's never happened before." They later posed for photos with then-President George W. Bush.


Then-President Vicente Fox of Mexico had not waited for Senate approval to help us. In an act of solidarity between our two nations, he gave the order without wading through red tape.


Mexicans coming to aid the U.S.A. — no passports, no visas, no walls.



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