What kind of honor is it to receive an award for being ‘unsung heroes’ anyway? Every generation in my family has stood up for our values in the face of a volatile political climate. History repeats itself for Latinos in the United States. But we come from greatness and we were taught to equate love of family with love of community above all else.
My abuelo served as a medic, caring for thousands of wounded soldiers during the Korean War, with a limited English vocabulary. He then returned to his young bride where, together, they would show their 8 children through their ACTIONS that serving others, being proud of who we are and where we came from, and keeping our family and our community together would be paramount.
My father and his hermanos grew up in a Civil Rights era where racial tensions were high and forming a positive Latino identity seemed extraordinary. Yet they had been taught to share our cultural traditions, arts, and dances publicly with pride, to open their homes to other families like ours, to learn about and take pride in our roots, then to teach their children BY EXAMPLE. As Silicon Valley grew up around them, their generation found their places in our local community as parents, tech workers, teachers, caregivers, preachers, real estate gurus, and as volunteers.
We were raised to understand very clearly: don’t talk about it; LEAD BY EXAMPLE and be about it. Like my father and tíos, and my abuelos before them, we do what needs to be done for our people, and above all else, for our families. We serve. We support. We open our homes. We march in the streets if we have to. We vote. This is the Guel family story. This is the legacy we inherited and continue to carry.
Lydia Guel de Bustamante