Hispanic Heritage at SAC
A Fort Rucker School Age Center after school program participant takes a swing at a piñata during the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration put on by the 1st and 110th Aviation Brigade’s equal opportunity advisers and volunteers, and the Fort Rucker Equal Employment Opportunity Office Oct. 5 at the SAC. (Photo Credit: Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Post and U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence equal opportunity and equal employment opportunity officials visited the Fort Rucker School Age Center to help children celebrate and learn about Hispanic Heritage Month Oct. 5.

The Army family is diverse, and it stresses the importance of creating an environment where all people are valued, respected, and encouraged to develop and perform to their potential, according to Lesa Willard, EEO specialist.

“America’s diversity has always been one of our nation’s greatest strengths,” she added. “Each culture and proud heritage play an essential role in a broad exchange of ideas, values, habits, entrepreneurships and innovation – all working toward a stronger society where we learn and grow together.”

Events such as this are important in highlighting the Army’s diversity, according to Master Sgt. Jason Oberle, USAACE chief military EO adviser.

“They help people understand the beliefs, ideas and reasoning that shaped different cultures,” he said. “It could be someone of a different ethnicity or background who is seeing and understanding the culture for the first time. What I wanted to accomplish during this event was to discuss activities and festivities that we normally see here in America, such as soccer and piñatas, and explain where they came from and to highlight how Hispanic cultures have shaped our culture.”

The team also discussed U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor with the children, according to Willard.

“Growing up in a housing project with very limited family finances, she was 9 when her father died,” she said. “Her mother worked long hours to provide for her and her brother. She loved to read, and was determined at age 10 to become a lawyer and judge. She studied and graduated top of her class, earning a scholarship to Princeton University and Yale Law School. She has been an ongoing advocate for diversity and equality in society. She was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 to become the first Hispanic justice to sit on the Supreme Court.”

Oberle said the team met its goals at the SAC.

“We tried to keep the lecturing portion of the celebration to a minimum because of the ages and attention spans of the children we were working with,” he said. “We had physical activities to help instill the lessons we talked about to them – the kids were excited to play a little soccer, smash a piñata and learn about a key leader in our history. I believe the kids had fun, and hopefully shared the knowledge and what they did today with their families and friends.”

He thanked the SAC staff and children “for making this a wonderful event.”

Oberle also thanked his teammates, Willard; Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Podruchny, 110th Aviation Brigade; and Sgt. 1st Class Josh Frasher, 1st Avn. Bde., “for coordinating and helping to make this event such a success. I hope the kids learned a little more about the Hispanic culture and continue to learn more about different cultures to help produce a more inclusive environment.”

For more on the Army’s observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, visit https://www.army.mil/hispanics/.