Hispanic Heritage Month post event entertains, informs
September 20, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 20, 2012) -- The United States is made up of a vast number of cultures and has a mix of people from all areas of the globe, and Fort Rucker is no different when it comes to the diversity that makes up the nation.
The installation is celebrating Hispanic Heritage month now through Oct. 15, and a kickoff event was held at the post exchange Sept. 14 to observe Hispanic culture with dancing, food and a bit of cultural education.
"Hispanic heritage has a rich tradition and [Hispanic Americans] have been involved in our history throughout the years," said Sgt. 1st Class Dunstan Fentress, 110th Aviation Brigade equal opportunity adviser. "What we're trying to do here [at the kickoff event] is highlight some of the things that they've done and say thank you. A lot of people overlook what other cultures have contributed to American society and this gives us an opportunity to recognize what Hispanic heritage has brought to our country."
Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, addressed the audience to officially kickoff the festivities.
"We have a great history in the United States as a melting pot of a number of different cultures and this is just one opportunity that we have to embrace one of those cultures -- Hispanic culture," he said. "[The Hispanic culture] has a pretty wide spectrum that goes from Europe to Central and South America."
The event began with traditional Hispanic music by the 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band accompanied by Hispanic dances by dance instructor Marta Vere, who teaches at The Commons, and her dance partner Juan Nieves.
April Smith, military spouse, expressed her amazement at the dancing and said she was pleasantly surprised when she came out to shop at the post exchange.
"I actually just came here to shop today and didn't realize all of this was going on," she said. "I'm glad I chose today to come out because I think the dancing that they've been doing is amazing. I wish I could move like that -- it makes me want to take some dancing lessons."
Shakima Lister, military Family member, said she came out to see and experience some of the Hispanic culture. The dancing was her favorite part of the celebration, as well.
"I really, really liked the dancing. It made me want to jump out there and start dancing, too," said Lister, who is of Hispanic descent. "I think it's important for people to see this because I'm proud of my culture.
"My dad is part Hispanic and he's really big on his heritage, so I wanted to come out and show my support," she said. "I have a very big Family out in California, and when we get together, there's a lot of the same stuff that's going on here, including a lot of the food."
The food that was available for sampling at the kickoff event were traditional Hispanic dishes that were prepared by volunteers like Susie Antonello, visual merchandiser manager for Army and Air Force Exchange Services, who made aroz con pollo, which is chicken and rice.
"My favorite dish was the chicken and rice -- I really liked it a lot," said Smith. "I didn't think that when I came out here today I would be getting free food, but I'm glad that I did."
Other foods that were available were curry chicken, picadillo, fried plantains and pinto beans.
Along with the traditional Hispanic foods, people had the opportunity to see different clothing styles from the many different Hispanic countries including Puerto Rico, Panama, Brazil, Peru, Mexico and Argentina, according to Antonello.
"I think it's just amazing that Fort Rucker put something like this on to honor a different heritage," said Smith. "It's a great opportunity for people to learn about other cultures and see what this country is actually made up of."