FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Puerto Rican-born Manuel Gaetan-Rivera encouraged his fellow Hispanics to honor their culture and embrace the one that surrounds them.

Gaetan-Rivera, a board member of the S.C. Hispanic Leadership Council and retired president-emeritus of the Bobbin Group, was the guest speaker for the 2009 Fort Jackson Hispanic Heritage Celebration event.

He told an audience of several hundred Soldiers, family members and civilian employees that "they have to make an effort to assimilate into the (American) culture and the (American) culture (has) to assimilate (with) them."

"Showing that they are culturally developed," Gaetan-Rivera said, "will enhance their access and acceptability by their neighborhoods ... and the people who affect their lives."

Gaetan-Rivera's remarks at the Tuesday luncheon were followed by food, dance and music, revering Hispanic heritage.

Master Sgt. Richard Lopez of the Recruiting and Retention School, said he appreciated being able to assist his organization in preparing a display on Hispanic culture.

The Recruiting and Retention School won the display contest that Fort Jackson units participated in as part of the month's celebration.

For the display, Lopez - who represented the Recruiting and Retention School at the luncheon - set up a laptop that displayed a slide show of scenes from various Spanish-speaking countries. Accompanying each set of scenes was its country's style of music.

The Recruiting and Retention School also did short biographies of all Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients. The award is the United States' highest military award.

The school's display was completed with a portrait and longer biography of the first Hispanic American four-star general, Richard E. Cavazos.

"Being Hispanic, (this has been) a great opportunity for me to display my heritage and culture," Lopez said.

For more than a decade, Fort Jackson has celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16