Fort Rucker celebrates Hispanic Heritage
Manuel Landivar, retired military, and his wife of 47 years, Ali, dance to Hispanic tunes played by Fort Rucker's 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band during the 2013 Hispanic Heritage Kickoff event at post exchange Sept. 13.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 19, 2013) -- It's often said that diversity is one of the nation's strong points, and Fort Rucker remains on the forefront of that strength as it celebrates the contributions of one group that makes up more than 17 percent of the U.S. population.

Hundreds were entertained at the post exchange Sept. 13 as they danced, ate, sang and mingled during a kickoff event to mark the beginning of Hispanic Heritage month, a time to reflect and recognize an important part of the nation's cultural fabric, according to Col. Shawn Prickett, Directorate of Training and Doctrine director.

"We need to remember that our Army and nation are comprised of many different groups coming together as one," he said during the kickoff. "Differences that seemingly separate us really do make the fabric of our country and Army strong."

The 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band was on hand to kick the celebration into high gear with songs ranging from traditional Latin Jazz to contemporary Latin music.

A Zumba demonstration was also held to get people's blood pumping and hips shaking as dancers took to the dance floor.

"It's like a full-blown party in here," said Trey Jordan, military Family member. "I didn't realize when I came here that I would be exposed to so much."

Jordan and others were not only exposed to traditional Latin music and dancing, but also traditional Latin foods from Panama, Mexico, Puerto Rico and more.

"I got a sampling of the foods from different countries and I've got to say, one of the greatest contributions that Hispanics have had to this country is the food," he said with a laugh. "I really just couldn't get enough of it, but all joking aside, I think it's important for people see the different flavors of life that people have to offer. The world would be a pretty dull place if we didn't recognize what other countries and heritages have to offer."

Melissa Jones, civilian, who happened to be passing through, agreed.

"I think it's amazing when you actually sit down and look at the different things that a group of people have to offer," she said. "You don't really think about it until you sit back and realize that we really do have to all work together and see past the prejudice because it's just not worth it -- plus we wouldn't have all this great food."

Hispanic Heritage month continues through Oct. 15 and Fort Rucker will host other events to celebrate what Hispanics have contributed to the U.S.

Sept. 28, the Fort Rucker Equal Opportunity Office will host the Fun-4-All bowling tournament at the Fort Rucker Bowling Center, which will be open to the public. And if people didn't get enough dancing at the kickoff event, there will be a Salsa Night at Divots Bar and Grill Oct. 11, which will feature instructors to teach people how Latin dance properly.

For more information on the bowling tournament or Salsa Night, call 255-2363.

Hispanics have more than food and dance to offer, however. More than 1.2 million Hispanics are veterans of our armed forces and 38 have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, said Pricket, adding that it's not just about contributions that they have made in combat that we need to recognize.

"(We need to) reflect, not only on the sacrifices that so many have made in combat, but also the sacrifices in the communities, the courts and the schools that allowed everyone to contribute, regardless of culture or the color of your skin," he continued. "I'm proud to be a part of this event today, and I'm proud to be the commander of a unit (that is so diverse), and I'm proud to serve alongside my Hispanic brothers and sisters."

Page last updated Thu September 19th, 2013 at 13:09