FORT BUCHANAN, PR -- Michele Pearce, Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Department of the Army visited Fort Buchanan September 29, 2020 to serve as guest speaker for the National Hispanic Heritage Month observance. The event, hosted by the 1st Mission Support Command and held at Fort Buchanan’s Community Club and Conference Center, was attended by Military and Civilian members of the garrison’s community, as well as Pearce’s uncle Francisco Rivera and her aunt Gladybell Rivera .Ms. Pearce first words were “I am Puerto Rican.” Right away, she shared with the audience her family experiences as she elucidated this year’s theme, “Honoring the Past, Serving the Future.” With Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote “Judge a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character” as a preamble, she started telling “My Story: Your Story” as a Puerto Rican and someone who also “has worn the uniform.”She highlighted the sacrifices of her mother, Cecilia Rivera Sánchez; her grandmother, Asunción Rivera Sánchez and her great grandmother, Juana Edwarda Rodríguez de Sánchez. At various times during her elocution, emotion took over and tears flowed as she reminisced about these great women in her family. She remembered the hands of her great grandmother withered from working the land but “gentle, strong, beautiful and caring.” She also remembered her mother Cecilia, who passed away two months ago. She inculcated in her the value of education so much that Cecilia finished high school when Pearce was in elementary school. “She sacrificed so my sister could become a teacher, my brother an electrical engineer and supported my decision to join the military. We were able to serve others, thanks to my mother’s sacrifice. She represents the best of Puerto Rico because she understood the value of service.”It was these great women who with their examples of perseverance, courage and resiliency prepared Pearce for her future. January 6, 2020 she was appointed the Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Department of the Army. Some of her previous appointments included DOD Deputy General Counsel on matters concerning legislation in which she also served as DOD’s primary contact with the White House Office of Management and Budget as well as the White House Counsel’s Office. She served as Senior Defense Advisor to a Senator, Staff Lead and Counsel of various subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives, aide to the Secretary of the Air Force and assistant executive to The Judge Advocate General, among other positions. She also published “Sexual Assault and Female Recruits” and was awarded the Alfred M. Kuhfeld Outstanding Judge Advocate of the Year Award, Air Combat Command’s Inspector General Excellence Award and Ritchey Leadership Award.Pearce also supports the Army’s, Project Inclusion. “This is what the Army is doing with Project Inclusion, recognizing the sacrifices and accomplishments of others regardless the skin color,” said Pearce.As an example of inclusion, diversity and equity, she also remembered her uncle Wenceslao Rivera who enlisted the Army and trained at Fort Buchanan in the 1960s. Talking about the tenacity and resilience of Puerto Rican Soldiers, she highlighted the achievements of the legendary 65th Infantry Regiment, The Borinqueneers, “the last of the segregated units in the Army, who gave it all, who despite adversity, persisted.”“I am Puerto Rican,” concluded the Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Department of the Army. “It is important to have the opportunity to honor those who came before me and made me who I am. It is important to pay respect to those who faced adversity and overcame.”During the visit, Pearce presented USAG Fort Buchanan Commander, Col. Joseph B. Corcoran III with a Department of the Army Office of the General Counsel coin. Col. Corcoran presented Michele A. Pearce with the US Army Garrison Fort Buchanan coin of excellence, the only federal military installation in Puerto Rico, which she referred to as a “historical place.”