Things That Matter

Here’s The Story Of Anthony C. Acevedo, The First Mexican-American Recognized As A Holocaust Survivor

When people think of those that survived or died in the Holocaust, Mexican-Americans are not the first that come to mind. In fact, they might not come to mind at all. However, there’s are millions of non-Jewish people that were victims of Hitler’s regime. There are 11 million people, including gay people, priests, gypsies, people with mental or physical disabilities, communists, trade unionists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, anarchists, Poles and other Slavic peoples, and resistance fighters, whodied in World War II. Like Jewish people, the non-Jewish community were seen as “undesirables.” One of those undesirables was Anthony C. Acevedo, a military medic for the United States. He documented life and death at a Nazi concentration camp.

Anthony C. Acevedo, a World War II veteran and survivor of a Nazi camp, died at the age of 93.

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While Acevedo died on Feb. 11,  his family buried him on March 8 in Riverside, California.

“If I can describe my father with one word, it would be heart,” Acevedo’s daughter, Rebeca Acevedo-Carlin, said at an earlier memorial service, according to CNN.

What an incredible, genuine man he was,” Fernando Acevedo, his son, said according to CNN. “He would always say have faith, care for others and, more importantly, love one another. I saw my father act with love toward everyone.”

Acevedo joined the U.S. Army as a medic in 1944.

CREDIT: U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project. The University of Austin Texas.

Acevedo’s father was an engineer who worked for the U.S. government despite not having proper documentation. Acevedo’s mother died while he was a baby. In 1937, during the Great Depression, Acevedo’s father — like many Mexicans during that time — was deported to Mexico.

While Acevedo was born in San Bernardino, California, he went to Mexico to be with his dad.

In 2009, Acevedo said in an interview with The Press Enterprise that when he was interrogated by a German officer in 1945, the man knew all the details about his life.

“He pointed at me with his baton,” Acevedo said in 2009. “He knew everything about me. He knew about my family. He talked to me in Spanish and English. He said, ‘You were born in San Bernardino and raised in Pasadena. Your parents were kicked out of the United States. That’s what the Americans do.'”

On Jan. 6, 1945, Acevedo and 350 U.S. soldiers were captured during the Battle of the Bulge and sent to a Nazi prison and labor camp.

CREDIT: YouTube

“The Germans were getting closer and closer,” Acevedo said, according to U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project. “We ran out of ammunition until, finally, we were caught.”

For the next several months, Acevedo had to help his fellow soldiers since he was a medic, but he was also trying to survive. They all faced torture and illness from brutal beatings and barely any food, the Washington Post reports.

“At the time, you would eat anything to try and survive,” Acevedo said, according to U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project.

When he arrived at the camp, Acevedo weighed 149 pounds, and after he was released he weighed only 87 pounds.

While at the prison camp, Acevedo risked his own life by keeping a journal and documenting every death he witnessed.

CREDIT: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Anthony Acevedo

Here’s an example of one entry that the Washington Post reprinted.

April 2, 1945

Two more of our men died today + one last night makes 3 + 16 — makes 19; living in unsanitary conditions; water must be boiled before it is drinkened. No latrines. Deaths are increasing in great number.

When asked by the Holocaust Memorial Museum why he kept a journal and risked his life by doing so, he said: “It was my moral obligation to do so.”

“Prisoners were being murdered and tortured by the Nazis,” Acevedo told CNN in 2008. “Many of our men died, and I tried keeping track of who they were and how they died. I’m glad I did it.”

On April 23, 1945 the war ended and out of the 350 soldiers captured only 120 survived including Acevedo.

Acevedo spent the last two decades of his life volunteering at the veterans hospital where he passed away.

“They saluted my dad all the way up and down the hallway as we were walking. Four floors like that,” his son Fernando told CNN. “Nurses, doctors, patients who were able to stand — everyone was standing at attention saluting my dad. I tell you, that was really heavy.”

In 2010, Acevedo was the first Mexican-American to register as a Holocaust survivor at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum .

CREDIT: Facebook/Travis Cole

Kyra Schuster, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum curator told CNN: “He was this man who, despite the odds against him, despite what he was going through and experiencing, it was still important for him to take care of others, to document what was happening, to make sure the world knew what had happened to them. That’s why he spoke out later in life. He was always putting other people ahead of himself. That’s how I see him, and that is so admirable.”


READ: A New Exhibition Tells The Stories Of Mexicans And Mexican-Americans Who Were Illegally Deported In The ’20s And ’30s

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An Ancient Mayan Book That Was Discovered By Archeologist Is Being Called The Oldest Book In The Americas

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An Ancient Mayan Book That Was Discovered By Archeologist Is Being Called The Oldest Book In The Americas

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Something pretty exciting is happening in Mexico. Yes, the Popocatépetl is erupting again. All of that volcanic activity is ejecting new life into the old world of Aztec and Mayan civilization. As you may recall, archeologists recently discovered a thousand-year-old Mayan palace located 63 miles west Cancún in Yucatán, Mexico. Before that, the  National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) also found hundreds of archaeological artifacts nearby the Yucatán that, as experts put it, contain “invaluable information related to the formation and fall of the ancient City of Water Sorcerers, and who were the founders of this iconic site.” This year a new study confirmed that a gold bar found in 1981 in a Mexico City park was part of the Aztec treasure that was stolen by Hernan Cortes and the Spanish conquistadors 500 years ago. It feels like our ancestors are trying to tell us something. 

After decades of research, experts concluded in 2016 that a book they found years ago, in fact, is a 900-year-old authentic astronomy guide from the Mayan period. The book is called the Grolier Codex, and archaeologists say this is the oldest book found in the Americas.

Credit: hyperallergic / Instagram

One of the reasons the authenticity was always questioned is due to the backstory of how the book was found in the first place. According to ArsTechnica, the Grolier Codex was found by a Mexican collector named Josué Sáenz in 1966. Sáenz said that “a group of unknown men offered to sell the book to him, along with a few other items found “in a dry cave” near the foothills of the Sierra de Chiapas.” 

What made this book even more fascinating, yet troubling, was that Sáenz said the men told him if he took the book, he wouldn’t be able to show it to anyone. Others then told Sáenz that the book was a fake, but did allow archaeologist Michael Coe to show the book in New York. He later would give the book to the Mexican government.

The 10-page book is said to be an insightful guide into astronomy and how the Mayans kept track of the sun and the planets. It was their early forms of calendar-keeping.

Credit: kushkatan / Instagram

ArsTechnica said the book was written during trying times — the late Mayan period. Brown University social scientist Stephen Houston described how each picture in the book offered critical information that Mayans needed for day-to-day duties. 

The images are of “workaday gods, deities who must be invoked for the simplest of life’s needs: sun, death, K’awiil—a lordly patron and personified lightning—even as they carry out the demands of the ‘star’ we call Venus. [The Dresden and Madrid Codices] both elucidate a wide range of Maya gods, but in Grolier, all is stripped down to fundamentals,” Houston said. 

What’s also fascinating about the timing of the book’s confirmation is that Michael Coe, the Yale anthropologist, who decoded the text, died last year at the age of 90.

Credit: kushkatan / Instagram

The New York Times wrote in his obit that Coe was instrumental at deciphering Mayan code and giving the Mayans credit for their work when many wrote off the images as just that. 

In “Breaking the Maya Code” (1992), he theorized that anthropologists had never given the Maya adequate credit for their linguistic advances because of what he called ‘quasi-racism,’ or an ‘unwillingness to grant the brown-skinned Maya a culture as complex as that of Europe, China or the Near East.'”

As we previously noted, a more recent discovery was made just this week. A gold bar that was found in a park in Mexico City in 1981 was finally determined to be an authentic Aztec treasure.

Credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History

It’s quite fascinating to see that just because artifacts are found, doesn’t necessarily mean they can be authenticated by archeologists with a snap of a finger. Their research takes years, sometimes decades. 

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said they used special equipment to research the gold bar including an X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) which is “a proven multi-elemental technique of high sensitivity, non-destructive, non-invasive and extremely fast.” 

With so many recent discoveries, we can only imagine what other types of treasures are still buried underneath the ancient lands of Mexico.

READ: Mexico’s Popocatépetl Volcano Erupted And Now People Think The World Is Coming To An End

For Martin Luther King Day, Let’s Not Forget His Right Arm And Civil Rights Pioneer Coretta Scott King

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For Martin Luther King Day, Let’s Not Forget His Right Arm And Civil Rights Pioneer Coretta Scott King

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This year marks the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. To honor the many fearless and historical women who made strides for the rights of women and minorities, People magazine is looking back on them through a new series called #SeeHer Story. The new digital video series airs on PEOPLE.com and @PeopleTV social handles and is headed up by Katie Couric Media. 

This week, the new series has put a spotlight on the life and times of civil rights activist Coretta Scott King in honor of her husband Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. In the new video, the series highlights her work and contribution to the Civil Rights Movement and lifelong activist as a leader in her own right.

In the new series, King is hailed as a fearless leader in the Civil Rights Movement.

King, who had been born in 1927 in Marion, Alabama, has long been celebrated for her work as an author, activist and civil rights leader in the movement to advocate for African-American equality. Later in her life, years after her husband’s assassination, she broadened her fight for quality to include the advocacy of LGBTQ+ rights and the opposition of apartheid. 

Throughout her life, King faced racism but her eyes were opened to it at a young age as girl growing up in the south in the town of Marion, Alabama. As People reports, King was subjected to the physical threat of racism when her family home was destroyed by arsonists.

Education became a defining aspect of Coretta’s life. 

Having been born into a family whose paternal great-matriarch had been a former slave, education proved to be an essential requirement in her family home in her early ears. During a speech at Antioch College, Coretta once quoted her mother as having said, “My children are going to college, even if it means I only have but one dress to put on.” She went onto study political activism at Antioch University and later music at  New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. It was during her time as a student that Coretta met Martin Luther King, Jr., then a theology student. There, the two students bonded over their interest in Ghandi and his practice of nonviolent protests and the two later married in 1953. 

Soon after they wed, they moved to Montgomery and found themselves thrust into the Civil Rights Movement. 

By 1955, King and her husband had taken on leadership positions in the protests that came about after Rosa Parks protest. 

After giving up her dreams to become a classical singer so that she could support her husband, Coretta watched her husband become a full-time pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1954.

“We found ourselves in the middle of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Martin was elected leader of the protest movement. As the boycott continued, I had a growing sense that I was involved in something so much greater than myself,” Coretta said in the video created by People. During their fight for equality, King and her husband faced extreme acts of racism and violence. In 1955, just months after the birth of their child, Yolanda, the Kings were targeted when a gunshot went through the front door of their home. In 1956, the family’s  front porch was destroyed by a homemade bomb. At the time  Coretta had been home with her  daughter and a family friend. Two years later, in 1958 King’s husband, Martin, had been stabbed while he’d been signing copies of his book.

Still, the couple would not be deterred. The two stood side by side as her husband continued to lead peaceful protests and give  speeches. King herself led a series of her own demonstrations by conducting concerts.

Then, in 1968, Coretta’s husband was shot and killed. 

After her husband’s death,  King had been left a widow and the single mother of four children. In the years after her husband’s death, King gave speeches advocating for civil rights speaking about her husband’s ideals. Eventually King took up her husband’s torch and broadened her fight to include women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, economic issues, world peace and apartheid.

“The world is in dire need of a spiritual awakening which will make those eternal values of love, justice, mercy and peace meaningful in our time,” Coretta said of her work in the clip by People.

Later in her life, King founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center and continued to extend her activism and worked to fight for nuclear disarmament. 

During her life and after it, Coretta has been celebrated for her work in keeping her husband’s legacy alive. She fought for the creation of Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, which thanks to King is observed today in all fifty states.