Hispanic Heritage speaker stresses importance of education, family, values
Ernestine Moya, U.S. Army Europe Equal Employment Opportunity director, talks about the challenges and achievements of her career during a Hispanic American Heritage Month Observance in Wiesbaden, Germany.

WIESBADEN, Germany - As the footprint of Hispanic heritage continues to grow in the United States, one second-generation Latina is leaving her mark and encouraging all Americans to do the same.
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Ernestine Moya, U.S. Army Europe Equal Employment Opportunity director, admits her life hasn't been a smooth and easy journey.
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During a Hispanic American Heritage Luncheon Sept. 29 at the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Dining Facility, the grandmother of three described her grandparent's plight, then her parents and then hers as generations of her family continued to look for a better life while still celebrating their culture.
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President Barack Obama likens the story of Hispanics in America to the story of America itself.
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In the 2009 proclamation for National Hispanic Heritage Month, Hispanics are recognized as having played a vital role in the moments and movements that have shaped the United States.
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"Many have taken great risks to begin a new life in the hopes of achieving a better future for themselves and their families," the proclamation reads.
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According to the U.S. Census, the estimated population of Hispanics in the United States was 46.9 million in July 2008 - making people of Hispanic origin the nation's largest ethnic or race minority.
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To date the U.S. Armed Forces has 1.1 million Hispanic veterans.
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With vibrant Latin music, spicy cuisine and catchy Spanish phrases, Hispanic heritage has undoubtedly transformed the United States and become common place, said Moya.
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But all that is just the tip of the iceberg.
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"It's important to share what's at the bottom of that iceberg," said Moya, referring to the Hispanic culture's deep faith, family values and strong work ethic.
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Raised on a farm with her brothers and sisters and sharing in a tradition of helping neighbors who did not have enough to harvest, Moya wove a short story of family, faith and hard work.
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But as she mentioned her mother's eighth-grade education level, Moya stressed the importance of education. Currently working on her doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, Moya said in her family education has become a stepping stone for each generation, with the next generation always showing promise to go further in the levels of education.
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"It hasn't been easy, but we have a responsibility from those who came before us," said Moya. "The bottom line is you are in control of your destiny."

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