What kind of honor is it to receive an award for being ‘unsung heroes’ anyway? Every generation in my family has stood up for our values in the face of a volatile political climate. History repeats itself for Latinos in the United States.  But we come from greatness and we were taught to equate love of family with love of community above all else.

My abuelo served as a medic, caring for thousands of wounded soldiers during the Korean War, with a limited English vocabulary. He then returned to his young bride where, together, they would show their 8 children through their ACTIONS that serving others, being proud of who we are and where we came from, and keeping our family and our community together would be paramount.

My father and his hermanos grew up in a Civil Rights era where racial tensions were high and forming a positive Latino identity seemed extraordinary. Yet they had been taught to share our cultural traditions, arts, and dances publicly with pride, to open their homes to other families like ours, to learn about and take pride in our roots, then to teach their children BY EXAMPLE.  As Silicon Valley grew up around them, their generation found their places in our local community as parents, tech workers, teachers, caregivers, preachers, real estate gurus, and as volunteers.

My generation faces an unprecedented housing crisis that is forcing us to make tough choices to move in together or to move out of the area that we have known and loved for decades as our family’s home. The current federal administration has emboldened racists, classists, and narcissists unlike anything my cousins and I ever thought we would experience in our lifetimes, given all that our elders had to endure. Still, we feel a great deal of responsibility to carry these traditions, to keep up the annual educational scholarships and reunion events that were started long before us to keep us coming back together, to support each other, to volunteer in our communities, to write and tell our own stories, and to stand up for what is right and just for not just our family, but for all families like ours.


As a family, we are proud to receive the recognition from Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley this year as their organization celebrates our 29th and our family reunion celebrates its 39th annual event. We humbly accept the award as validation of the lessons and examples that we have all tried to be for the younger generations.  But we don’t believe we are unique.  We know that countless Latino families like ours are active, engaged, awake in our Valley.  We don’t necessarily need a fancy award to keep the legacy of our abuelos alive.  This is our cultural heritage.

We were raised to understand very clearly: don’t talk about it; LEAD BY EXAMPLE and be about it.  Like my father and tíos, and my abuelos before them, we do what needs to be done for our people, and above all else, for our families. We serve. We support. We open our homes. We march in the streets if we have to. We vote. This is the Guel family story. This is the legacy we inherited and continue to carry.

Hear more about our story and this legacy this Sunday 10/14/18 on Damian Trujillo’s show Comunidad del Valle on NBC at 9:30 am and Telemundo at 11:00 am. (Set your DVR now!)
We’ll see you on the dance floor at the Foundation’s party on 10/20 at the Fairmont, and hopefully at Cinequest for a screening of the upcoming film The Artist that Never Was about our abuelo Luis.
Until then, be sure you’re registered to vote so we can stand together for what is right and just for families like yours and mine.

Guest writer:

Lydia Guel de Bustamante


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