Among those receiving thumbnail profiles in the "War and Peace" segment is war hero Marcario Garcia. He earned a Medal of Honor for taking out two German machine-gun nests single-handedly, only to later be refused service at a diner in a small Texas town. (A restaurant sign there read, "NO DOGS, NO MEXICANS.")

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"Across the series, I think we make a real effort to capture the complexities of the narratives, so that it is not just 'us' against 'them,'" Bosch says. "It's kind of a first rewrite of American history that includes Latinos. It's a remix."

"Latino Americans" is being aired as part of PBS' celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sunday-Oct. 15). Other related programming includes a "Latino street festival" edition of "Sesame Street" on Thursday.

Latinos currently make up 12.3% of the total U.S. television audience. According to network figures, PBS draws 13.5% of its daytime audience from Latino-headed households; the prime-time figure is 7.1%.

"While we're always looking to attract diverse audiences, we see a series like this as an opportunity to attract a larger Latino audience than we've had before," says Beth Hoppe, PBS' chief programming executive, so that "the content on PBS is reflective of a changing America."

The series wraps up by examining the emerging Chicano and farmworkers rights movement of the 1960s and '70s, and the diversifying Latino population's migration to new corners of the United States, particularly the Southeast. In the years ahead, the series' creators contend, ongoing events such as the immigration-reform debate will continue to reframe the centuries-old narratives of Latino Americans.

"Latino history is American history," Hoppe says, "and that's one of the things I think you can't help but take away from this series."