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Every year the United States honors the heritage of Hispanic Americans from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

Fort Jackson celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with a luncheon Sept. 30 at the NCO Club on post.

We are "here to highlight an important part of the rich diversity" that makes the country strong, Sgt. Jeanette Arroyo, with the Soldier Support Institute, read from Pres. Barack Obama's Hispanic Heritage Month Proclamation.

Hispanics have positively affected American culture through food, music, science and engineering, she read.

Attendees, including Fort Jackson's commander, Maj. Gen. John "Pete" Johnson, were treated to a serenade by the Palmetto Latin Five Orchestra, Hispanic food, and a keynote speech by Command Sgt. Maj. Jorge C. Escobedo, the Non-commissioned Officer Academy commandant.

"On behalf of Hispanic American Soldiers it is truly a privilege to be here today as the U.S. Army recognizes the values and contributions of American Soldiers from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America," Escobedo said during his keynote address. "The fact is that over the history of the United States, Hispanic Americans have not hesitated to defend and give their lives to this great nation in many ways -- but especially through military service, more importantly the U.S. Army."

Hispanic Americans have served in every American conflict since the Civil War, he added. In World War Two roughly 400,000 to 500,000 Hispanic Americans served in the Armed Forces.

"They would do so as a combat multiplier, clearly reflected in Gen. Douglas MacArthur's comments about the Army National Guard's 168th Infantry Regiment, the Bushmasters, who had one of the greatest combat teams ever deployed for battle," Escobedo said.

Escobedo said he was born in Mexico City and came to America when he was 16 years old and became a "part of this proud institution" in March 1994 when he first enlisted in the Army. Escobedo has spent "27 years as a proud citizen of this tremendous nation -- the United States of America."

"There is not a better institution than the United States Army," he added. "An institution that is committed to its people, to their development, and an organization committed to equality."

For more information about how Hispanic Americans are serving in the Army visit: