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Interpreting the Evidence

World War I Service Record for Hedrilman Gonzalez, c. 1919

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York City
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load World War I Service Record for Hedrilman Gonzalez, c. 1919 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
World War I service card, Form No. 724-1 A. G. O., listing personal information, organizations served in, ranks held, engagements, wounds, and discharge date for Hedrilman L. Gonzalez, ca. 1919.
Historical Context
Service records show biographical information about each soldier, including his address, his place of birth, the unit or units he served with, and any wounds he may have received.    

Latinos have made an outstanding contribution to America by serving in the armed forces.  Today, people of Spanish descent make up 9.5% of all active duty personnel.  Hispanic Americans have been recognized for their bravery and valor, and Latinos as a group have received thirty-nine Medals of Honor in recognition of their accomplished service in the defense of our nation.

There are many stories that demonstrate the gallantry of Hispanic soldiers during the Great War.  One such story involves a young private named Marcelino Serna. Private Serna was wounded on the battlefield in France, but continued to fight, and later captured twenty-four German soldiers.  Private Serna was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in the service of his country.      

Latinos also volunteered in force during World War II.  Although records from this war are incomplete, it is estimated that over 250,000 Latinos fought in the Second World War.  Of these, 56,000 were from Puerto Rico.

Essential Question
How do immigrants become a part of a new society?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the information found in this document and explain how Hedrilman Gonzalez was a important member of American society.
Historical Challenges
Many resident aliens in the U.S. were drafted into World War I. See if you can find Mr. Gonzalez’s draft notice on the web. If he became a citizen, see if you can find his naturalization papers.
Mr. Gonzalez was born in Cuba. Research Cuba’s role in World War I.
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a letter home from the Western Front that Mr. Gonzalez might have written.
Science: Many new weapons were used in World War I (also called the Great War). Make a poster describing them.