Marker No: 16279
Aluminum 27 x 42 Subject Plate
Geographic: 28.458527, -98.180473
Location: 205 East Thornton Street, Three Rivers (Now moved to courthouse)
Marker Text: The funeral rites of Three Rivers native Felix Longoria advanced public debate on the status and rights of Mexican-Americans and military veterans. Private first class Longoria enlisted in the U.S. Army in Nov. 1944 and was killed during the Battle of Luzon in the Philippines. His parents received his posthumous medals, while his wife and daughter moved to Corpus Christi after the war. Longoria's remains were repatriated in 1948, and his widow Beatrice received a telegram requesting a burial site. In Jan. 1949, she met with the owner and undertaker of Three Rivers' only funeral home (at this site) to discuss arrangements. The men refused to host a wake in the funeral home chapel, suggesting Longoria's family home would be more suitable. The decisions was widely interpreted to be racially based; at the time, separation between Anglo and Mexican-American citizens was commonplace and codified by state and federal laws.
Beatrice and her family turned to Dr. Hector Garcia, who had formed the American G.I. Forum in Corpus Christi the previous year to promote rights for returning veterans. Garcia contacted state and federal officials and members of national radio and news media for assistance. U.S. Senator Lyndon Johnson arranged to bury Longoria in Arlington National Cemetery; family members and government officials from the U.S. and Mexico attended his funeral there on Feb. 16, 1949. The "Longoria Affair" received widespread coverage in the U.S. and international press and brought an official investigation by the Texas Legislature. The American G.I. Forum and Sen. Johnson gained national recognition and remained at the center of civil rights causes and politics in the ensuing decades. Ultimately, this local and private event affected the national conversation on civil rights, politics and patriotism. (2009)