Written by Darriel McBride
Every year, International Men’s Day is commemorated on November 19th to celebrate the positive that value men bring to the world, their families, and their communities. One of our very own Family Pictures USA participants, Leonardo Gonzalez, is quite literally the embodiment of a man who has brought significant positivity and inspiration to his family and his community.
Originally from Texas, Leonardo’s moved to LaBelle, Florida in 1953 with his parents and his two older brothers in pursuit of economic opportunity. Since moving to Florida, Leonardo and his family have made it their mission to nurture their own multigenerational family bonds. They’ve been fortunate enough to watch their family grow stronger with each generation.
During their interview, Leonardo’s granddaughter, Bianca, emphasized the importance of family bonds.
Bianca: When my grandma came, she wasn’t alone and that’s important. You know, none of us…We’ve never had to be alone. We always stick together. You know, there’s a lot of people that don’t get to have all of these generations together.”
His daughter, Leonor, described her admiration of her father’s dedication to their family as she held her photo closely.
Leonor: This is a chiva. Otherwise known as a goat or a high lift and this signifies…Why we’re here and the hard work that my dad did. Growing up, I remember we wouldn’t eat dinner til 9 o’clock at night cuz my dad would leave before I woke up and he would come home at 9 o’clock. He worked 7 days a week and we never needed anything. My mom never had to work. Raised 8 kids. He took summers off and that meant the world. To have such a hard working man, who came from nothing, and provided for us through picking oranges.
Leonor continued to explain how her father even went from being a migrant worker to a successful business owner and founder of Gonzalez Harvesting.
Leonor: He worked his way up and eventually had all my brothers working or him. He had 200 employees at one time and just seeing how much of a hard worker my dad is, always made me respect, you know, him just getting out there working in the hot Florida sun and he did it for us.
As the saying goes, “Not all heroes wear capes,” yet, Leonardo is clearly a hero to his children and the future generations of his ever-growing family. For many migrant workers in the United States and overseas, Leonardo is an example of what is possible.
We want to hear from you! Who are the men in your life that you admire? Send us your photos and be sure to check out Season One available now!