Publishers Weekly
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Second Street in the railroad town of Silvis, Ill., was known as "Little Mexico." Its people had fled Mexico during its revolution almost 100 years ago and found work with the railroads, seeking to survive, to move in from society's margins. "We all wanted to be Americans," recalled one resident. "Nobody knows how patriotic we Mexican Americans were." Seventy-eight men from 35 small houses, shacks and converted boxcars served in WWII and Korea. Eight died-reportedly the highest per capita rate of any neighborhood-but despite this service, Second Street remained unpaved for years. Its veterans were blackballed by the local VFW, which feared "the Mexican Americans would take the post over...." But recognition of the community's sacrifices came in 1968 when a grateful legislature renamed Second Street "Hero Street." Journalist Wilson, founder of the International Newspaper Network, tells the stories of these families with a clarity that never lapses into sentiment or pity. Things are very different now, affirm relatives and descendants. All the more reason to remember by name the young men from Little Mexico who were "killed in action fighting for their country." 15 b&w photos. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved