Tribute to the Fallen

An oldies tribute to the Viet Nam veterans

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: March 15, 2004

Tribute to the Fallen

One of the reasons I love music is that there is a genre or song for almost any occasion or life event that we can all relate to. Happy times, sad times, and current events of a particular time and era can all be reflected in song. Some people write music, some write about it, some perform it, and some, like myself, play it, promote it and share it for the world to enjoy, regardless of individual interpretation of life.

Music is one of the most significant keepers of history available in our society.

So it was recently that I was fortunate to have as a return guest on my show author Ruben Molina ("The Old Barrio Guide to Lowrider Music"), as he joined me in a well-deserved & long overdue musical tribute to Chicano Viet Nam veterans. Ruben also showcased some rare & hard to find Oldies ballads from his extensive collection ? some which I had never heard ? that were recorded during that era.

Interestingly, some of these songs were banned from American airplay during the war as their beautifully arranged, albeit descriptive, lyrics were seen as counter to the American war effort, and tugged at the heartstrings of the Chicano & Black community, who gave up many of their beloved sons, husbands, brothers during the Viet Nam conflict.

Like myself, Ruben is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Viet Nam era. He shared some of his experiences of the time, many which inspired him to begin collecting these rare songs. Both of us shared how these songs affected us emotionally, not just because of our experiences as young men at the time, but also because of the many young Chicanos who proudly marched off to war in support & defense of their country and never came back.

Their legacy is forever memorialized in the Chicano Movimiento of the late 1960's-early 1970's.

As the show progressed, we were joined by Chicano comedian Gilbert Esquivel, who was gracious enough to accept my last minute invitation to come on the show, despite his hectic schedule.

Known for always being a "crack up," Gilbert hit a serious note by proudly stating that his uncle, Roy P. Benavides, was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient during the Viet Nam conflict, had recently had a U.S. naval ship commissioned in his name, and was the inspiration for the first Chicano-inspired action figure toy in the United States, the Sargeant Major Roy P. Benavides G.I. Joe. Ruben & I could see the pride in Gilbert's eyes as he described how proud his family was of his uncle, who served in the U.S. Army Special Forces. Right on, homes! Gilbert is also in the planning stages of a musical-comedy show that will reflect the time era, and give tribute to the Viet Nam Veterans of America. The 411 will be available here on LatinoLA.com , so stay tuned, Mi gente.

The station received many calls, and I received many e-mails, from listeners from different parts of the country just to say "Thanks."

It is I who wish to say thanks, to all my brother veteranos, past, present & future , who put their lives on the line in defense of our Country, without hesitation, to keep the freedom of us all safe and intact.

Thanks, Ruben. Thanks, Gilbert. ?Si se puede, carnales! Keep it alive forever!

Ruben Molina can be reached at : http://www.mictlan.com

Gilbert Esquivel can be reached at: http://www.eastsidecomedy.com

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme spins the finest Chicano style Oldies but Goodies in the World, live, every Thursday at 6:oo pm, (west coast time) only on http://www.kclafm.com
Website: http://www.frankiefirme.50megs.com

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