Nonfiction Wednesday: The School the Aztec Eagles Built & Growing Peace

kidlit-frenzyNonfiction Wednesday is hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kidlit Frenzy

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After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Mexico pledged its support to the United States and the war effort.  In retaliation, German U-boats torpedoes two Mexican oil tankers.  Mexico’s small peace time army limited its ability to defend itself or participate in military actions, but its president assembled the country’s best pilots and formed Air Fighter Squadron 201 – the Aztec Eagles.  These pilots and their support crews were sent to the U.S. to train for fighting missions as part of the Allied forces engaged in military operations across the Pacific area under the command of General MacArthur.

The Aztec Eagles carried out many brave and successful missions in the Philippines, and returned to Mexico as celebrated war heroes.  But one of them, Sargent Angel Bocanegra, had left his mark even before he had left  Mexico for his training.  Bocanegra, a teacher, had been trying unsuccessfully to raise funds for a proper school for the children of his village.  When the Mexican president had asked the departing soldiers if they had any requests to make, Bocanegra had boldly stepped forward to ask for a school.  By the time the Aztec Eagles returned home after the war, this school had been built in their honor, and Bocanegra could return to his first passion: teaching.

Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson tells this  little known story in The School The Aztec Eagles Built: A Tribute to Mexico’s World War II Air Fighters.  I loved the many photographs throughout the book, which help tell this remarkable story.

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Ricard Sobol’s Growing Peace: A Story of Farming, Music, and Religious Harmony is just the sort of book we need right now: a book about how people of many faiths can come together and create a community based on economic cooperation and religious harmony.  

J.J.Keki, a Ugandan coffee farmer and aspiring musician, was visiting New York City, the World Trade Center specifically, on the morning of September 11th., 2001.  Deeply affected by what he experienced, he returned home with a mission and an idea.

When he met with his neighbors, J.J. brought a message of cooperation and sharing.  What was the one thing they all had in common? Coffee.  His idea was that they form a cooperative for farming and selling their coffee.  If they worked together they might get a better price and also spread a hopeful message.  They could show the world that people of different religions could work and live together peacefully.

The Peace Kawomera coffee cooperative, has grown from 250 members in 2005 to 1,ooo members as of 2016.  Religious differences in the cooperative are honored and respected, and members work together for the collective good of their community and its children. The success J.J.’s mission gives us all hope.  Richard Sobol is an award-winning photojournalist, his stunning photographs are such an important part of J.J.’s story.

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3 thoughts on “Nonfiction Wednesday: The School the Aztec Eagles Built & Growing Peace

  1. Both are new to me and sound like wonderful stories, Tara. As I’ve said so often, I wish we were taught these stories all through the years. I’ve learned of so much good through reading these nf picture books. Thanks!

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