SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (September 27, 2018) - The U.S. Army dedicates itself to embracing the strengths of diverse Soldiers and enhancing cross-cultural awareness among the force. The different experiences and backgrounds of Soldiers enhances global capabilities and contributes to a capable and collaborative organization.

Soldiers and civilians from U.S. Army Central gathered at Patton Hall Sept. 27 to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. The ceremony recognized the exceptional achievements and contributions that Hispanics have made in fighting and safeguarding the nation throughout history.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The theme for the 2018 Hispanic Heritage Month is One Endless Voice to Enhance Our Traditions. This month also encompasses Mexico's Independence Day on Sept. 16, the Independence Day of Chile on Sept. 18 and Spain's "National Day" Oct. 12.

Col. Douglas W. Mills, the commander of the 2503rd Digital Liaison Detachment, USARCENT, provided the opening remarks and shared his enthusiasm with the crowd.

"From the earliest history of the explorers from Europe, to the new lands that have become our country, we have seen the vision, courage and resilience of the Hispanic culture at the heart of what we call the 'American experience,'" said Mills. "Today, as part of this celebration, we hope to honor the many facets of Hispanic culture. We want to share the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and spirit of Hispanic culture."

The room was full of excitement as participants were embraced with cultural traditions, festive food, authentic music and a performance by Latin dancers.

The guest speaker for the ceremony, Col. Juan B. Cosme, a native of Puerto Rico and the USARCENT medical logistics officer, said increasingly complex global responsibilities require that the Army not only attract personnel from diverse backgrounds, but also be knowledgeable of what service members and civilians bring to the Armed Forces by integrating their attributes, experiences and backgrounds.

"I am honored to serve in the most diverse military force in the world. We here at USARCENT engage with multiple countries and other nations around the world and can see that they view us with awe as they see our committed men and women from different backgrounds supporting our global military efforts," said Cosme. "What they see is the strength of spirit and the esprit de corps that transcends our cultural differences. It is these differences and our cultural adaptability that have prepared us for the unconventional, asymmetrical and battlefields of the future."

Spc. Ricardo Guzman, an information technology specialist, for 2503rd DLD, said the Hispanic population stands out as one of the strongest culturally influential groups in our nation.

"This is an opportunity not just for the Hispanic culture, but for everyone. Understanding each other is key in maximizing the diversity that is America," added Guzman.

More than 136,000 Hispanic American Soldiers currently serve and more than 40 Hispanic American Soldiers have received the country's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. These achievements leave a legacy of selfless service and honor that will motivate new generations for eons to come.