By Sgt. Matthew G. Ryan, 25th ID PAOOctober 4, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HAWAII -- Every year the United States recognizes the contributions and celebrates the culture and heritage made by the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans from September 15 through October 15.
"It is great that we can recognize the contributions and sacrifices that have been made by Hispanics that help shape the United States to what it is today," said Staff Sgt. Carlos Ramirez Jr, headquarters commandant, Operations Company, Headquarters & Headquarters Battalion, 25th Infantry Division. "I am very proud of my culture and to be serving in the Army."
Recently, Ramirez and his son, Carlos Ramirez III, volunteered to help lay some of the hundreds of new brick pavers that expanded the courtyard adjacent to the memorial, known as "Unified Through Sacrifice Memorial", at the 25th Inf. Div. Headquarters Building. The new expansion doubles the size of the previous footprint, allowing for more room to pay tribute to the Soldiers, past and present.
"Honoring our past heritage is very important for me and my family, and seeing my son take part in this gave me immense gratification, said Ramirez. He said his son has a great appreciation for the military and felt a great honor in helping with the expansion of the memorial as well, and knowing that the memorial would be around one day for his children to come and look at gives him a sense of belonging to the 25th Inf. Div., and the U.S. Army.
The "Unified through Sacrifice Memorial" honors the men and woman from World War II, Korea and Vietnam conflicts, and Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Statues of four Soldiers in uniforms of each era pay homage and final honors to a fallen comrade at the sight of a fallen Soldier's boots and rifle. A replica of the memorial is scheduled to be dedicated on October 17, 2013, at the Walk of Honor, which is next to the National Infantry Museum, Fort Benning, Ga.
The first statue, represents the Global War on Terrorism, and is modeled after Sgt. James Rivera who served with, A Co., 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with valor, Soldiers Medal, and Purple Heart for his contributions while serving in the Tropic Lightning Division.
The statue on the memorial is one of the ways the 25th Inf. Div. honors its past Hispanic Soldiers.
"I felt a lot of pride to have helped with the memorial, knowing I was able to give something back to our past heroes," Ramirez said. "Knowing that Sgt. Rivera gave so much to the Army and that the memorial has his face as part of the statue is a great feeling."
National Hispanic Heritage Month started in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson and then was expanded under President Regan in 1988 to cover a full 30 days, starting September 15 through October 15.
The observance begins Sept. 15, which is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries; which are Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile's independence days are on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. Also within the 30-day period is Columbus Day or Dia de la Raza, which is October 12.