An observance honoring Hispanic Heritage Month and the contributions and influence Hispanics and their culture have had on the U.S. was held at Soldier Hall.

The event was hosted by 4th Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and included several cultural performances from singers and dance troupes from El Paso and the surrounding area.

"We are a nation of immigrants," said Alex Hernandez, guest speaker at the event and El Paso Community College's director of human resource development. "We represent different cultures, ethnicity and roots. But even though we are different, we are American first."

"It's important that people are aware of culture - not just from one ethnic background, but the whole human race," said Norma Molina, a Fort Bliss government service civilian who performed several Flamenco dances with Gitanos Del Paso. "The military is a melting pot of multiple cultures. In one way or another we are all intertwined. For example, the Flamenco dance is from Spain, but the footwork I do is inspired from Africa."

Two dance troupes performed several dances: Gitanos Del Paso and Folkorico Tradiciones Panamenas. Aris Cajar, the director of Folkorico Tradiciones Panamenas, said he thought the Soldiers would appreciate the dances since all the movements are diverse but based on flirting or fighting.

La Malinche brought down the house with an expressive showcase of talent while singing several songs in Spanish. Soldiers represented different eras and ethnic backgrounds by wearing traditional costumes donated by Mexican Regional Costumes.

September was chosen as National Hispanic Heritage month to commemorate the independence of Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua. The celebration honors Hispanic heritage from Europe, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

"We need to respect the diverse cultures, roots and heritage of differing ethnicities, not just Hispanic," Hernandez said. "Every culture is rich in tradition. But we are all American first. So, in reality there's only one race: the human race. The more we know about each other, the better the sense of direction for the country."

The cheers from the assembled mass of Soldiers and civilians may have drowned out some Hernandez's closing remarks, but the message was clear: honoring and respecting diversity will unify and strengthen our families, communities and the nation, he said.

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Page last updated Thu October 2nd, 2008 at 11:46