(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

TOWER BARRACKS, Germany – Offering leaders and Soldiers at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria an opportunity to reflect, National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The day of Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and 18 respectively.

Originally the observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was later expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period. It was enacted into law Aug. 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

During this month, the U.S. Army organizes various events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture, heritage, and the accomplishments of Hispanic Soldiers. These celebrations often include cultural events, guest speakers, educational programs, awards and recognitions and community outreach such as engagement with local Hispanic communities, collaborating with organizations and hosting community service events.

USAG Bavaria Command Sgt. Maj. Hermes F. Acevedo gave his insight on why Hispanic Heritage month is important:

“By highlighting diversity, the military can demonstrate that people from all backgrounds can serve and contribute to the defense of their country," he said. "This representation helps to build trust, encourage participation, and foster a sense of belonging among different communities. Diversity in the military brings a variety of perspectives, experiences, and skills to the table.”

Acevedo hails from Ponce, Puerto Rico and originally enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 1994 as a military policeman.

“I think it is important to have diversity in the military, especially at the leadership level, because when it comes to leadership and positions of higher responsibilities, they are examples that all people are equal and have the same opportunities to excel," said Acevedo. “It inspires others and, in a sense, builds pride.”

“I feel very proud to be a Hispanic in the U.S. Army; I’m one of the first in my Family to join the military, and I take pride in representing my family’s name,” said Staff Sgt. Megan Ramirez, military police Soldier working at the Directorate of Emergency Services at USAG Bavaria – Garmisch.

“I know my grandparents and parents had big dreams for my family and I when they came to the United States, and I believe it’s important to carry that dream,” said Ramirez. “My hopes and dreams for the future are to build a strong foundation for the next generation of Hispanics just how my family did for me, I also want to set a good example for Hispanic females throughout the Army and America.

Ruy Dan Arroyo, who works as a civilian/contractor with the Army in USAG Bavaria sees Hispanic heritage month as an opportunity to learn:

“Some of the lack of knowledge and understanding about Hispanic culture gives me an opportunity to share my heritage with others,” Arroyo says. “I find most people curious and appreciative to learn about other cultures.”

To learn more about the history of Hispanic American Soldiers in the U.S. Army, visit the Army feature page here.