“I am home, safe and sound, and reviewing all these memories as if in a dream. All of this pleases me. I have been faithful to my duty.” Thus José de la Luz Sáenz ends his account of his military service in France and Germany in 1918. Published in Spanish in 1933, his annotated book of diary entries and letters recounts not only his own war experiences but also those of his fellow Mexican Americans.
A skilled and dedicated teacher in South Texas before and after the war, Sáenz’s patriotism, his keen observation of the discrimination he and his friends faced both at home and in the field, and his unwavering dedication to the cause of equality have for years made this book a valuable resource for scholars, though only ten copies are known to exist and it has never before been available in English. Equally clear in these pages are the astute reflections and fierce pride that spurred Sáenz and others to pursue the postwar organization of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
This English edition of one of only two known war diaries of a Mexican American in the Great War is translated with an introduction and annotation by noted Mexican American historian Emilio Zamora.
What Readers Are Saying:
“With the publication of this extraordinary diary titled The World War I Diary of Jose de la luz Sáenz, Professor Emilio Zamora makes available to both scholars and the larger reading public what stands as the only memoir of a Mexican American soldier in World War I (and for that matter, probably the only account by a Tejano serviceman who fought between WWI and the Vietnam War). The narrative, by J. Luz Sáenz, provides not only first-hand information on military training and on action in France, but offers valuable insight into the social life of early twentieth-century Mexican American communities. From Sáenz, historians learn of struggles by common working-class people to gain a passable life as well as of Tejano leaders whose political consciousness prodded them to develop plans for civic action on behalf of la raza. Zamora’s painstaking translation and annotation of this primary source, done with a master’s touch, is certain to stimulate new research by those with interests in military, cultural, and intellectual studies.”—Arnoldo DeLeon, professor of history
“In its translated form, Emilio Zamora and Ben Maya continue this mission by making visible an overlooked ‘special group of frontline soldiers who served among millions of others in the Allied army and shared in the misfortunes and dangers of the Great War’. . . The parallel struggles for military victory and recognition in American democracy constitute a defining motif in the history of American racial minorities in warfare, and the nuances of his narrative and tone give Sáenz’s diary a unique place within the genres of military and racial history.”—Southern Historian