Fort Leonard Wood celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month with a luncheon Oct. 10 at the Pershing Community Center.

Congress has designated Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 of each year as a time to honor Hispanic Americans for their contributions to the nation. A presidential proclamation is issued annually in recognition of this month.

"National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans, who have enriched our culture and society and helped make America into the incredible country it is today," the proclamation reads. "Hispanic-American men and women embody the American values of devotion to faith and family, hard work and patriotism through their countless contributions as leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and members of our armed forces."

Air Force Col. Grace Link, guest speaker, said her family emigrated from Mexico to Chicago when she was only 1 year old. She joined the military in 1986 to travel and see the world.

"Service in the military really transformed me," Link said. "They gave me an opportunity for an education, and (I learned the) importance of a strong team; the importance of including everybody -- doesn't matter what you look like, doesn't matter what gender you are, doesn't matter where you come from, we all have something to contribute."

She said her deployments took her to several Latin countries and that she learned how important it is to help people.

"Look out for each other and see what kind of difference you can make in somebody else's life," Link said.

She challenged those in attendance to remember three things.

"Remember your heritage, so you can pass it down to your kids," Link said. "Remember those who sacrificed for you, and remember to stay focused on the mission."

Entertainment was provided by Group Latino Americano out of Springfield, Missouri.

Link currently serves as a Regional Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region VII. She is also the Executive Director of the Missouri Veterans Commission where she is responsible for oversight of seven veterans homes, five veterans cemeteries and 44 Veteran Service officers statewide serving Missouri's Veterans in applying for their VA benefits.