Hispanics contribute greatly to Army
Maj. Gen. James Milano is Fort Jackson's commanding general.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Last week, the annual monthlong celebration of Hispanic heritage got under way. The observance starts mid-month to coincide with the anniversaries of when seven Latin American countries - Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua - gained their independence.

Fort Jackson's main Hispanic Heritage Month observance is planned for Oct. 2 at Patriot's Park. And this year, as in years past, the event - which offers cultural food, fun and entertainment - is something that you certainly will not want to miss.

Hispanic contributions to our military are as old as our military itself. They can be traced back to the American Revolution, when an officer in the Spanish Regiment in Louisiana supported the colonial forces in their fight for independence from Great Britain by providing cattle and weapons.

Hispanic Americans have played a vital role in every one of our wars, in every battle and in every fight. Did you know that since the Civil War, there have been more than 40

Hispanic American service members who have received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award' Did you realize the last battalion-sized bayonet charge was conducted by members of the Puerto Rican National Guard during the Korean War when they moved on two hills held by the Chinese 149th Division'

Hispanic Americans can be proud of numerous other accomplishments in helping shape our great nation. There have been many highly significant Hispanic American contributions in every sector of our government, but probably none more highly visible than the success stories of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona.

Both overcame their share of adversity through hard work, determination and perseverance. Sotomayor's rise to the nation's highest court is a shining example of the American dream. She spent her young life living in public housing in the South Bronx.

Her parents moved to New York during World War II. Her father, who was a factory worker with a third-grade education, died when she was 9 years old. She turned to books for solace and soon developed an unquenchable thirst for desire for knowledge. She eventually worked her way into an Ivy League school and the rest is pretty much history.

Meanwhile, Carmona also grew up in New York City, dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army during the late 60s. He subsequently earned a GED, joined our Special Forces and went on to become a decorated Vietnam veteran. After leaving the Army, he began his academic work, culminating with a medical degree. And the rest is history.

In all of our nation's gloried history, there have been countless contributions by Hispanic Americans. There are many, many noteworthy Hispanic Americans who have served our country well. Some have gone on to greatness.

That is just one of the reasons why it is so important to designate a month each year to reflect on Hispanic American accomplishments. Hispanic Americans, who have come from all walks of life, have always served and continue to serve the United States proudly. During the monthlong celebration, we not only set a time aside for recognition, but also an opportunity for enrichment. Through cultural exchanges such as these, we are able to get a better understanding of the Hispanic American culture and background. We can learn something about one another. That is what our Army is all about.

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