FORT BENNING, Ga. (Oct. 5, 2018) -- The Maneuver Center of Excellence and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation hosted a national Hispanic Heritage Month celebration Sept. 21.

The event was also a celebration of Belize Independence Day, which celebrates Belize achieving independence from the United Kingdom Sept. 21, 1981.

Hispanic Heritage Month started Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15, coinciding with the independence days of several countries in Latin America: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua Sept. 15; Mexico Sept. 16; Chile Sept. 18; and Belize Sept. 21.

The guest speaker for the event was WHINSEC Command Sgt. Maj. Karim M. Mella, a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He joined the U.S. Army as a combat engineer in 1992, but he had previously been to WHINSEC, then known as School of the Americas, when he was a Dominican naval officer.

"When I saw what was going on here, and all the cooperation that the Hispanic community had here in the United States, I was very surprised," said Mella. "When I came in the Army in 92, in the U.S. Army I came under the motto that used to be 'Be All that You Can Be,' 'Ser Todo lo que Puede a Ser.'

"To me, it was the best motto ever, because that shows that if you put effort, and if you dedicate (yourself) to the stuff that you do, you can become anything in the United States," continued Mella. "And I'm an example of that. I'm very honored to be wearing this uniform today and to be in this position today. It's not because I know people -- because I didn't -- it's just because I followed the motto, 'Be All that You Can Be.'"

To learn more about National Hispanic Heritage Month or the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, visit the "Related Links" section on this page.