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We Are Not Barbarians
This research project focuses on New Mexicans who were stationed in the Philippines during World War II, specifically in the 200th and 515th Coastal Guard Artillery Units of the National Guard. In April 1942, after the Battle of Bata'an, Japan's Imperial Army forced approximately 70,000 U.S. and Filipino captive soldiers to march more than 75 miles on the Bata'an Peninsula, located on the island of Luzon, towards the camps that would become the survivors' home for the duration of the war. More than one-third of these soldiers-estimated at more than 25,000-died during the summer of 1942 alone. New Mexicans endured, died, and survived the Bata'an Death March in larger numbers of National Guard personnel than any other U.S. state, with regiments that totaled more than 1,800 Native Americans, Latinos, and Whites. Although published research portrays the traumatic events of the Bata'an Death March, the experiences of veterans of color, including those from New Mexico, have received less attention and critical analysis. Through the framework of Critical Race Theory, this project centers their stories as ethnic minorities enduring war and imperialism.