45th Sustainment Brigade hosts Hispanic Heritage celebration
October 10, 2013
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - More than 200 soldiers throughout the 8th Theater Sustainment Command attended the Hispanic Heritage celebration Oct. 2 at Shafter Flats.
The event is part of a monthlong effort to highlight the contributions of Hispanic soldiers throughout the history of the military.
The event included a dance exhibition, food, and an inspiring speech from 8th Theater Sustainment Command's chief of future operations, Lt. Col. Alberto Rodriguez.
"Our main goal is to promote awareness," said Michelle Ward, equal opportunity adviser for the 45th Sustainment Brigade. "If I walk around today and ask soldiers to name three Hispanic countries, not many can do it. I would like to change that."
The largest minority in the United States, Hispanic Americans have a long history of service in the armed forces. Hispanic American men and women have fought in every major war since the American Revolution.
They have also received the most Medals of Honor, from the beginning of the Civil War up through Operation Enduring Freedom.
"For Hispanic Americans, the armed forces have been a great place to seek, find, and achieve success," said Rodriguez.
Many soldiers with non-Hispanic roots also stopped by to experience the events and support their Hispanic American battle buddies.
"As soldiers in the military, we all come from very different backgrounds," said Staff Sgt. Janet Chavez of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command. "You live and work with your battles closely every day, so it helps to understand their culture. That could be one of your soldiers or peers."
Although other minorities face challenges of their own within the ranks, Hispanic Americans in particular often encounter language barriers when they enlist in the military.
"A lot of Hispanic Americans are offered jobs in the military where English is not a requirement," said Ward. "I think it's important we aren't badgering or mistreating these soldiers because of a communication difficulty."
Rodriguez ended his speech at the end of the ceremony and left the soldiers of the 8TSC with a simple, but strong message: "Hispanics are the strength of our Army, and our Army is the strength of our nation!"