HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- The Mexican American Council and City of Homestead honored Marine Sgt. Simon Gonzalez, a recruiter with Marine Corps Recruiting Substation Perrine, for his military service and dedication April 27.
Gonzalez, who grew up in the migrant farmer community of South Florida, received the Hometown Heroes award as a tribute to not only his three combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, but as a symbol of his dedication as a role model for the migrant community.
“He’s a prime example of what we hope every young man would become,” said retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Tony Stout, a board member of the Mexican American Council and teacher with Miami-Dade County’s Migrant Education Program.
Stout mentored Gonzalez as a student and was his scout master when he joined the Boy Scouts of America at the age of nine. Watching Gonzalez grow throughout the years was uplifting said Stout.
Gonzalez, like many children of migrant workers, had a testing childhood. While his peers were moving toward crime and gangs, Gonzalez went the opposite direction and embraced the role of mentor, explained Stout. Gonzalez went to school, was active in the scouts and worked throughout middle and high school to support his younger siblings all the while mentoring younger migrant children when he could.
“He’s really earned this award his whole life,” Stout said. “Others where in gangs, but he was a leader from the start. He doesn’t sit back on his heels. He takes charge. He’s got leadership written all over him.”
As a leader of Marines and in his community, Gonzalez’s humility is unwavering.
“I really am honored today with this,” Gonzalez told a crowd representing the Mexican American Council. “You don’t go through life helping others and serving for the recognition, but because there’s people that need it.”
United States Representative Joe Garcia from Florida’s 26th Congressional District, along with the mayors of Homestead and Florida City presented Gonzalez with the Hometown Heroes Award.
On behalf of the State of Florida, State Representative Kionne L. McGhee and school board member Lawrence Feldman presented Gonzalez with a letter officially entering his service into the congressional record.