HONOLULU -- Tripler Army Medical Center's Hispanic Heritage Month observance filled Kyser Auditorium, Sept. 20, here.

The monthlong observance, which pays tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society, began Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 15. It honors those with Hispanic heritage by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

To add some entertainment to the gathering, two of Tripler's Soldiers, Sgt. Kris Concepcion and Sgt. Jason Brauer, demonstrated moves and techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu is a martial art, combat sport and self-defense system that focuses on grappling and ground fighting.

Sgt. Margaret Jordan, executive aide to Command Sgt. Maj. William Franklin, senior enlisted advisor, Pacific Regional Medical Command, was invited to be the guest speaker for the celebration.

Jordan, who is of Mexican heritage, said she was deeply humbled by the invitation to speak at the event and shared her own personal identity struggle as she was growing up in Southern California with the audience.

"It was at a time when I was becoming socially aware, about the age of seven, and I had this misconceived notion about ethnicity. What I was doing, and what I found was pretty prevalent among my friends, was claiming that I was Spanish," Jordan explained. "I had this notion that if I convinced others I was of European descent then I could somehow justify my Hispanic roots."

She admitted that on her path to self acceptance she would get frustrated with people when they asked about her background.

"I was angry that people would presume to judge me based off of my ethnicity like I had nothing else to offer more than where my people came from," Jordan said. "It never occurred to me that people were genuinely interested in who I was or where I came from."

It was not until her daughter was born that Jordan realized she needed to re-evaluate her self-image and question her attitude.

"I needed to set an example and embrace a healthy attitude about who I was and what that meant," Jordan said. "I am an American."
Jordan reminded everyone that America is the most diverse nation in the world and she is proud of that.

Col. Glenda Lock, deputy commander of nursing, PRMC and TAMC, closed out the celebration by echoing the commander's constant message about the importance of diversity for the nation.

"The strength of our nation is acknowledgement and the fact that we embrace the diversity of our culture," Lock said. "Not just the strength of our nation, but of our humanity. We need to embrace our differences."

Page last updated Thu September 27th, 2012 at 00:00