FORT BLISS, Texas -- Every year, Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15. Fort Bliss held its quarterly cultural observance Oct. 7 at Soldier Hall in honor of Hispanic heritage and the effect it has had on the American society.

The month begins in the middle of September because this is the time when several Hispanic countries celebrate independence anniversaries. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua achieved independence Sept. 15, with Mexico shortly after on Sept. 16 and Chile following on Sept. 18.

During the ceremony it was noted how many ways American Hispanics influenced the culture here. Through song, dance, food and craftsmanship, Hispanics helped build America into the diverse nation it is today.

"Among Americans of Hispanic descent are astronauts, military leaders, Medal of Honor recipients, doctors, lawyers, scientists, actors, athletes and teachers," said Staff Sgt. Ariessa Griffin, equal opportunity leader with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and mistress of ceremonies at the event. "Furthermore, Hispanic performers have enriched our music and contributed to the arts."

Incorporated in the observance were four styles of dance: the Panama dance, the folklorico of Mexico, the flamenco from Spain, and the classic salsa, which brought audience members to the stage. Fort Bliss Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport and Lucille Pittard, wife of Fort Bliss Commanding General Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, were also found partnered and kicking their feet onstage performing the salsa.

"The reason we have these observances is to promote more acceptance and tolerance and understanding of others," said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Crumpler, major subordinate command equal opportunity representative. "It's so broad, and so many countries are represented in Hispanic culture. We wanted to make it educational and entertaining at the same time, so that's why we chose dance and food sampling."

After the show, people sampled food from different Hispanic cultures. Among the foods were fried and salt-sprinkled plantain chips, Spanish meatballs in a soupy sauce called albondigas or tapas, tacos, taquitos and nachos with cheese.

"I know nachos sounds stereotypical, but the history behind nachos is why we had it," said Crumpler. "Nachos originated when Nacho, who was a restaurant owner on the border of Texas and Mexico, made something to eat for the Army wives who often crossed the border to shop. Even though his restaurant was closed, he made them these nachos and they ate it and were so thankful that he gave them something to eat. So, the history behind it is why we chose to serve nachos for the observance."

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