By Hays County Historical Commission
In celebration of National Hispanic American Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, the Hays County Historical Commission-His- panic Heritage Committee has chosen to recognize the achievements and contributions of The American GI Forum. The American GI Forum was established in San Marcos in 1948.
While the GI Forum did not directly involve itself in partisan politics, it was very involved in community affairs and registering Hispanics to register to vote. One of the obstacles facing the community was the existence of the poll tax which forced people to pay $1.75 for the right to register to vote. The GI Forum came up with a creative strategy that was highly effective. They sponsored dances at the Woodmen of the World Hall and Cuauhtémoc Hall. Admission was $1.75 and all proceed were used to pay the poll tax and register Hispanics to vote. The GI Forum succeeded in registering hundreds of new voters.
Among the first Hispanic American individuals elect- ed to public office in HAYS County were all members of the American GI Forum:
• Ruben Ruiz – City Council (1961) Mayor Pro- Tern (1962) County Commissioner (1974)
• Celestino Mendez- School Board 1963- 1969
• Augustin Lucio Jr.-
School Board 1964-1991
• Eleazar Salinas- School Board 1966-1969
• Petro Rodriquez- School Board 1974, County Com- missioner 1992-1996
• Luciano Flores – City Council (1968) Mayor (1972)
• Robert Cavazos – City Council 1976) Mayor (1979)
• Jerry Flores – School Board- 1972
• Nick Lara- School Board- 1972
• Jesse Saucedo – Constable (1980)
The late Ruben Ruiz, First Hispanic elected to the San Marcos City Council in 1961 and First Hispanic elected to the Hays County Commissioners Court served as Texas State Chair- man for the American GI Forum from 1966-1968.
Many more GI Forum members followed in serving. The American GI Forum Ladies Auxiliary also succeeded and won several seats on city council, school board and county offices.
American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: AUSTIN, Texas – The American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. State Commander Ceasar Ruiz has called for the Board of Directors regularly scheduled Fall meeting on Saturday October 30, 2021, 11:30 am to 4:00 pm in San Marcos, Texas. The San Marcos Forum Chapter is hosting the meeting being held at the San Marcos Public Library Meeting Room at 625 East Hopkins Street in San Marcos. For complete information call Jesse Sanchez, meeting coordinator at (512) 665-0881 or Gil Rodriguez at the State Office at: (512) 992-7066. If you plan to arrive Friday, please call Jesse or the State office for hotel information. Some Hotels are close to the library and are on the west side of IH 35. The state did not block off any rooms in any hotel.
Proper Notices were mailed out to all Region and Local Commanders/Chairs. Notice of this meeting has been posted on our website. Any changes of time or location will be sent by email and posted on this site.
National Commander Luis Vazquez Contes have been invited and plan to attend.
The Board meeting will start at 11:30 am Saturday. All State Officers, Region Commanders, Chairwomen and Local Commanders and Chairs must attend. Registration for the meeting is $15.00 per person and includes snacks and refreshments. Lunch will be served, and meeting will conclude at 4:00 pm but not later than 5:00 pm. All local commanders and chairs are urged to attend. The meeting will have a short agenda of important items that must be discussed prior to our next meeting. Items include Finance, Budget, and Corporate Assets, and the election or evaluation of the AGIF Texas CEO. Board travel and some proposed plans are on the agenda.
An agenda will be devoted to addressing our organization’s issues caused by the Pandemic. We will be discussing and finding ways to retain and increase membership, utilize our resources better and how to best continue growing our organization. Of important to all our veterans and families’ new ideas and programs will be introduced for discussion. This short meeting is an in-person meeting and will devote the time to find ways to return to normal after the devastating pandemic.
Everyone present, in good standing and registered, will be permitted to participate in discussions. An agenda will be provided for all attendees.
The next duly called Board meeting is not scheduled until February/March 2022, location TBA before the 2022 the State Conference in June scheduled in Corpus Christi. A National Mid-Year Conference is scheduled for March 2022 in Michigan.
Direction for Meeting site: From I-35S (going south) take exit 205 to Hopkins and go west until you get to Library on right hand side, From I-35N (going north) take exit 205 to Hopkins and go west until you get to Library on right hand side. For more information call:
Jesse Sanchez, Board Meeting Chair
Mr. Sergio ‘Serg’ Dickerson COL (RET) USA is the new President and CEO of the American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program, Headquarters in San Antonio with offices San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, EL Paso, and Fort Worth. Sergio is a 26-year Army Veteran serving in leadership positions from Platoon to Brigade command and with multiple combat tours during his military service. Sergio served as Executive Vice President and Vice President of Client Services while assigned to the American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program before being bestowed the honor of serving as the new Company President and CEO.
Mr. Dickerson was selected and hired by the NVOP Board of Directors. He has been heavily involved in a leadership capacity within the organization since he was hired in 2015. Mr. Dickerson will be the leader and steward of the organization and will be responsible for promoting the vision of the organization and understands the role of growing and protecting the AGIF-NVOP and its subsidiary corporations.
The board of directors is confident that Mr. Dickerson will continue to serve our nation’s veterans will continue promote the NVOP as a premier community-based veterans service organization, a legacy, started by Mr. Carlos Martinez past President and CEO, and of interim President/CEO Yolanda Suarez.
Juan Mireles, Board Chairman stated: “From the Board of directors, we congratulate Serge, and we wish him success and luck on his new role of leading and promoting the NVOP.
Mr. Dickerson is married to Ingrida and has 4 grown children, Leah, Mantas, Rachel, and Ryan.
American GI Forum of Texas Report: AUSTIN, Texas – The 2021 National Conference was held in San Antonio Texas began Wednesday, August 11 and ended on Saturday August 14. The situation regarding the pandemic was significantly improved and everyone seemed pleased to be surrounded by old friends. A reminder that the 2020 conference was postponed and not cancelled so even though we renegotiated with the Hotel we did have a contract was honored.
Our conference scheduled at the Wyndham Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio was moved, because the hotel was sold, to the historical Sheraton Gunter Hotel downtown which gave us a setting close to the famous Riverwalk and the San Antonio’s downtown business section, the Alamo, and historic attractions such as the Hemis-faire tower, the Alamo Dome Stadium and surrounded with a multitude of restaurants, boutiques, and curious shops. early arrivals assured attendees of seeing San Antonio without missing out on our quality business and educational sessions or visiting with speakers. This hotel is at “the Center of Everything,” and has the highest standards of a first-rate facility and preserving its historical integrity.
The leadership of AGIF Texas deliberated and concluded that this conference could be safely during held the month of August. The end results were that we had good attendance to our safely scheduled events that we wanted including full assemblies at meetings and sit-down luncheons, receptions, and banquets.
We thank everyone who attended with this is a brief reminder land photos of some social events and as a report to those who missed the Conference.
Our Registration started the Wednesday afternoon. Executive Meeting session scheduled was postponed and later cancelled by the National Commander Romo.
Our Conference did get off to a fast and fun start on Thursday with our Annual Technology Breakfast opening the 2021 session. The Breakfast opened with a welcome from San Antonio City Councilmember Mario Bravo District 1. The Keynote for that event was Olga E. Custodio, Lt Col, USAFR (Ret), American Airlines Captain with an inspiration speech. Later a special Presentation of electronic equipment was made to a Corpus Christi elementary school. This presentation was made by the Beatrice Perez Memorial Women’s Chapter from Robstown, Texas.
Later that morning the AGIF/Texas scheduled a dedication ceremony at our AGIF National Veterans Outreach Program VET facilities to honor past President and CEO Carlos Martinez at the renaming of the street adjacent to the VET facilities Carlos Martinez Drive in his honor. Both events were well attended.
The Corporate and Legislative Awards Luncheon
Introduced as speakers were Judith Canales, Southside First Economic Development Council and Rodney Geter, Engineer, Solutions Architect and Christian Minister. Corporate Awards were presented by M/C Patsy Vazquez Contes Vice Chairwoman Leona Flores.
During the workshops, the Women welcomed Mike Gonzales US Army (Ret.) So. TX Regional Director, Birdwell Foundation, PTSD and Mental Disorders for a very informative seminar complete with a panel.
All business conducted, resolutions and presentation were properly recorded. The minutes of the general session will be presented at the Mid-year Conference. We will not report on issues brought before the assembly because we may have missed some or part of all discussions. The minutes will reflect the important assemblies’ actions.
Texas Style Barbeque and Entertainment
Thursday evening, a Texas style Barbeque hosted by Heroes Lodge gave all attendees a taste of Texas with Rudy’s Texas Barbecue and Tejano and Western music provided by Roy Reyes and his music and very special entertainment featuring Mr. Cosme Barcelo.
Friday General Session:
The next morning a special presentation of Heroes Lodge a New Texas Project was given by Mr. James Andrews, Design Director for WestEast Design Group, and members of the Heroes Lodge Board.
Legends’ Recognition Luncheon:
At noon we paid special tribute to Cristobal Aldrete, an early AGIF pioneer at the Legend Recognition Luncheon. Master of Ceremonies was Past National Commander Juan Mireles and Featured Keynote Speaker Mr. James Aldrete, MAP Communications, and son of Legend Cristobal Aldrete. A historical view of the early AGIF from a son’s perspective and personal experiences. A Special Presentation from State & National Commanders to the family followed.
Master of Ceremonies, Ceasar Ruiz, Texas State Commander introduced Guest Speaker: Brent S. Elyea, Merrill Lynch, Austin, Texas speaking on personal finances and later Keynote Speaker, Maj. Gen Juan Ayala USMC (Ret.) with a very inspirational speech.
At the Women’s Leadership Luncheon:
On Friday, Leona Flores, National Vice Chairwoman introduce MC Patsy Vazquez Contes as MC for the Women’s Leadership Luncheon. Keynote Speaker Mrs. Gloria Guillen, because of illness was unable to attend, however a letter from her daughter was read thanking the conference for inviting her mother and honoring her and continuing with her plight for Justice for her daughter. Later a Special Presentation to Gold/Blue Star Mothers by Patsy Vazquez Contes, Leona Flores, National Vice Chairwoman and Commander Larry Romo.
Afternoon General Session
Elections and Selection of Mid-year and 2022 Conference. Detroit Michigan will host midyear and Colorado Springs will host the 2022 National Conference.
Elections were held later that afternoon and the following 2021-22 National Officers were elected:
National Commander: Louis Vazquez Contes, Colorado
Vice Commander: Mario Perales, Texas
Secretary, Greg Nichols, California
Treasurer: Ernesto Montoya, Colorado
Chairwoman: Patsy Vazquez Contes, Colorado
Vice Chairwoman: Leona Flores, Michigan
The Conference concluded with Pizza, refreshments, desert, and comradery hosted by the AGIF of Texas.