An affair to remember for South Texas veterans

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South Texas veterans have a new site to visit on August 14, the day that ended the War in the Pacific in 1945, bringing World War II to a close: a Texas Historical Commission Marker in Three Rivers commemorating the Rice Funeral Home as the site of the Felix Longoria incident.

In late 1944, Three Rivers’ resident Felix Longoria was drafted into the U.S. Army....Private Longoria, killed by an enemy sniper, was posthumously awarded a Bronze Service Star, a Purple Heart, a Good Conduct Medal, and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge....

In late 1948, Longoria’s remains were returned to the U.S., and his wife, Beatrice Moreno de Longoria, called the Manon Rice Funeral Home in Three Rivers to arrange a funeral service. According to interviews and notarized statements, undertaker Tom Kennedy told her the wake could not be held there because “the whites would not like it.” At the urging of her sister, Sara, Moreno de Longoria discussed the incident with American G.I. Forum founder Dr. Héctor P. García. García’s efforts to resolve the matter drew national attention to what became known as the Felix Longoria Affair, and made the young G.I. Forum a major civil-rights player.

Then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson offered his assistance and support, and on February 16, 1949, Longoria was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C....

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