FORT KNOX, Ky. – Each September 15 through October 15, our nation recognizes the culture and contributions of Hispanic Americans during Hispanic Heritage Month. This year’s theme is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.”
Like many commemorations, this is a month-long observance, but it’s unique because it begins in the middle of one month and ends in the middle of another. The reason for the mid-month celebration is because September 15 is the day Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua celebrate their Independence Day. Mexico celebrates its independence shortly afterward on September 16, and Chile on September 18. October 12 is significant as well, celebrated across Spain and Latin America as the Day of Hispanic Heritage.
Today, more than 139,000 Hispanic Americans serve in the total force. Hispanic Americans have a proud record of military service, dating all the way back to the Civil War, and have made significant contributions to our nation, Army, and First Team.
“It is truly inspiring to see the growth of Latino representation in the military,” said Lt. Col. Julio J. Reyes, commander, Special Troops Battalion, 1st TSC.
“Currently, almost 1 in 5 Americans are Hispanic. My grandfather and father, both natives of Puerto Rico, served during a time where the Latino population in the Army was only under 3%.
“Now, Hispanics are the fastest growing population in the Army representing 17% of the force. My family and I appreciate the Army’s efforts to promote Latino service and create an environment for diversity. We have a distinguished heritage and record of service,” Reyes said.
As one of the 110 Hispanic Soldiers in the 1st TSC, Reyes is proud of the accomplishments of Hispanic Soldiers past and present who serve as heroic representations of Hispanic military service.
“There are proud Latinos like Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez who is a Medal of Honor recipient; Staff Sgt. Ariana Sanchez, the Army’s first female Sapper Leader Course instructor; and Gen. Richard Cavazos, the Army’s first Hispanic four star general; and other great Hispanic leaders.”
Our Army and the 1st Theater Sustainment Command embrace and celebrate diversity and are committed to building high performing and cohesive teams.
“I am proud of my Mexican heritage,” Spc. Cecilia Soriano, combat camera specialist, 1st TSC said.
“I’m part of a diverse, inclusive team where I am the only Hispanic woman, and I know that my ideas and contributions are welcome and respected,” she added.
Hispanic Soldiers have been recognized by the Army for their immense contributions.
In 2014, the 65th Infantry Regiment, a unit of Soldiers mostly from Puerto Rico, known as Los Borinqueneers, received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress.
Additionally, 46 Hispanic American Soldiers have been presented the Medal of Honor, our country’s highest military decoration. The first was Cpl. Joseph DeCastro from Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry, for his actions at the battle of Gettysburg in 1863. Staff Sgt. Leroy Petry was the most recent recipient for his actions in Afghanistan in 2008.
America’s diversity continues to be one of our greatest strengths. Recognizing diversity as a 21st Century leadership competency enables the Army, and 1st TSC, to harness the unique attributes of our all-volunteer force to fight and win our nation’s wars.