NATICK, Mass. (Sept. 18, 2013) -- In celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, the Natick Soldier Systems Center welcomed former U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez as guest speaker at its Sept. 17 observance.

Gomez was the Republican nominee for the Senate in the 2013 special election in Massachusetts to replace now U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Gomez is a private equity investor and a former Navy aircraft carrier pilot and Navy SEAL officer.

President Barack Obama's proclamation for the 2013 National Hispanic Heritage Month reads, in part:

"From the earliest days of our Republic, Hispanic Americans have written crucial chapters in our national story. Hispanics have honorably defended our country in war and built prosperity during times of peace. They run successful businesses, teach our next generation of leaders, and pioneer scientific and technological breakthroughs."

Gomez is a true testament to this.

Gomez was born in Los Angeles to Colombian immigrant parents and grew up in the state of Washington. Gomez was a good student and star athlete and brought a tennis championship to his high school.

His skills on the tennis court didn't go unnoticed, and he came to the attention of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. He graduated with merit, earning an engineering degree, and later went on to add an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Gomez said the most selfless thing his parents had ever done was to stay in the United States when he was younger.

"They decided to stay here because they thought this was a better country to raise their kids," Gomez said. "I saw from an early age how receptive this country was to my parents … I had a calling to give back."

Gomez went on to say that his parents instilled in him the thought that, "It's far greater to serve than to be served."

After departing from military service, Gomez knew he wanted to continue serving.

"I decided to try to go into public service, and that's when I ran for the Senate a few months ago," Gomez said. "The reason I wanted to do it was because I looked back at the decision my parents made, how fortunate I was to have been born here, to be raised in an amazing country like this, and I wanted to make sure that my kids and everybody else's kids had the same opportunity I had when I was young."

Although Gomez did not gain a seat in the Senate, he continues in public service with his involvement in Hispanic organizations and children's hospitals.

"I hope that we get more Latinos and Hispanics to get involved in the process, because I think we have an amazing amount to offer to the private and public sector," Gomez said.

Gomez said regardless of your ethnicity, you have to make sure to take full advantage of opportunities.

"You've got to capitalize on those opportunities," Gomez said. "Don't view it as you're going to get something special because you're Hispanic or some other ethnic group. You have to prove yourself."