UPDATE: For the first time in the ceremony’s history, a consul general of Mexico attended the wreath laying at Hero Street Memorial Park, Silvis, on Friday.

Ambassador Reyna Torres Mendivil visited to honor the soldiers of Hero Street who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. The ambassador also paid a visit to a resident of Hero Street.

Ambassador Reyna Torres Mendivil (photo by Bryan Bobb)

Mendivil said this year the United States and Mexico are celebrating 200 years of bilateral relations.

EARLIER: On Friday, May 26, at 11:30 a.m., there will be a special wreath-laying ceremony at the Hero Street Monument and Hero Street Memorial Park, Silvis.

Ambassador Reyna Torres Mendivil is the Consul General of Mexico in Chicago and will visit Hero Street for the ceremony. This is the first time a Consul General of Mexico has ever visited Hero Street.

Ambassador Reyna Torres Mendivil is the Consul General of Mexico in Chicago.

Maria Mier Llaca of Moline arranged the event, since she often attends Mexico’s Independence Day festivities in September, in Chicago or other cities. She first met Ambassador Torres in 2019 and kept in touch with her. Llaca’s father brought the Mexican Consul General from Chicago to Moline for a visit over 50 years ago.

“I mentioned that we had seven Mexican-Americans who were killed in action from that street. But one of them happened to be a Mexican national when he was killed. He was not an American citizen,” Llaca said Tuesday of the Hero Street Eight. “So that caught her eye. And so I have to tell her, if you ever would like to come to that part of the area, call me and I’ll be more than happy to arrange something, but we kept as friends. We kept up our friendship.”

Out of the blue this past February, her chief of staff called Llaca and asked if the invitation was still open. “And you don’t say no to an ambassador,” she said.

The Hero Street Monument on Second Street in Silvis.

Only a block and a half long, Second Street in Silvis lost six young men in World War II and two in the Korean War, more than any other street in America. Hero Street, as it is now known, has provided over 100 service members since Mexican-American immigrants settled there in 1929.

Every Memorial Day weekend, the area honors the memory of the Hero Street Eight: Tony Pompa, Frank Sandoval, William Sandoval, Claro Solis, Peter Masias, Joseph Sandoval, Joseph Gomez and John S. Muños; and all of the U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the United States armed forces.

Torres has been the Mexican Ambassador since 2019. Before assuming her current position, she served as Consul General in San Antonio, Tex. The Ambassador has also held the positions of General Director for Protection of Mexicans Abroad, Consul of Mexico in Fresno, Calif., and General Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. She was also Deputy Chief of Mission at the Mexican Embassy in the Czech Republic.

Part of Torres’s visit on Friday will include lunch at Moline’s Butterworth Center, a look at Moline’s Mercado on Fifth, a reception at Davenport’s Putnam Museum with their board, and a look at the new regional history exhibit, “Common Ground: Our Voice, Our Stories,” as well as a visit to LULAC’s center in Davenport.

Nellie Muños of Hero Street is 100, and her husband’s brother was Johnny Muños — who was only 23 when he was killed in the Korean War Aug. 27, 1951 (photo by Jonathan Turner)

Torres wants “to honor the soldiers,” Llaca said of Hero Street. “When they came here, they had a huge struggle because they weren’t welcome. But the Rock Island Line solicits them, the workers. They were down at the border, soliciting them to come over to work here.”

Torres also will stop and say hello to Nellie Munos, oldest surviving resident of Hero Street in Silvis (whose brother-in-law was one of the eight heroes), who turned 100 years old on Cinco de Mayo, May 5, and lives between the Hero Street Monument and Memorial Park.

Other events this weekend are:

  • Hero Street Monument Memorial Day Ceremony ~ Saturday, May 27 at 10:30 a.m.

Memorial Day is a day for remembrance of those who have died in service to our country. A special Memorial Day Ceremony will be held at the Hero Street Monument, on the corner of Hero Street (2nd Street) in Silvis. Please remember to bring your lawn chairs.

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The Hero Street monument in Silvis honors the eight Mexican men from 2nd Street in Silvis who lost their lives in World War II and Korea, as well as others who served.
  • Hero Street Memorial Park Ceremony ~ Saturday, May 27 at noon.

The city of Silvis will hold its annual Memorial Day service at Hero Street Memorial Park at noon. Special guests include State Rep. Gregg Johnson; Rock Island County State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal Nieman; Navy Veteran (retired) Brian Munos; and a military officer from the Rock Island Arsenal (to be announced). Please remember to bring your lawn chairs.

All Hero Street docs to air

Four of the completed films from the Fourth Wall Films‘ award-winning Hero Street documentary series will air on WQPT-PBS (Channel 24) on Memorial Day: “Riding the Rails to Hero Street,” the Emmy-nominated WQPT/Fourth Wall Films co-produced “Letters Home to Hero Street” (Frank Sandoval’s story), “A Bridge Too Far from Hero Street” (William Sandoval’s story), and “An Infantryman from Hero Street” (Joseph Sandoval’s story).

“The Last to Fall From Hero Street” – the fifth film in the documentary series from Moline-based Fourth Wall Films, about John Munos — is slated for release in 2024. 

The four films will air on WQPT-PBS on Monday, May 29, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information on the Hero Street series, click HERE.