Documentary honors Hispanic veterans

Kendra Ward

“Kansas Hispanic Veterans Remembered” was shown Thursday, Nov. 15 in the Henderson Learning Resources Center. The film was composed of interviews following the careers of several veterans.

The documentary covered everything, from why they enlisted and the food they ate. Many interviewees gave tearful accounts of the discrimination they faced as members of a minority, even after faithfully serving their country.

Several Hispanic veterans were at the screening, and their feedback was all positive. The discussion afterward focused on the fact that while the documentary told some great stories, many stories were left untold. It would be impossible to truly tell the stories of Hispanic veterans in entirety, but the film covered a great deal.

The producers, Lyall Ford and Joaquin Sumaya, are both Washburn alumni. Sumaya got the idea for the documentary when he was watching a Memorial Day special on television.

“There wasn’t any voice of Hispanic Veterans,” said Sumaya.

He went to Ford, his then-roommate, who had experience in making documentaries, and they decided to work together. Sumaya and Ford worked with the Kansas Hispanic Latino American Affairs Commission (KHLAAC), Justicia Inc., and Kansas Art Commissions to get a grant.

“[It] was a lot of paperwork but quite simple,” said Sumaya. “It was a small part but once we got it, we got a thumbs-up to start.”

This film was first aired on PBS in Wichita in October for Hispanic Heritage Month, and it aired a second time Nov. 18. A group in Wichita is planning on making a Spanish-dubbed version soon, which will make it available to an even wider audience. It is also online at Google Video.

“We have offered free copies to TV stations,” said Ford, “because we want to get it out there.”

Ford and Sumaya eventually hope to screen the film in Garden City, their hometown.