BAGHDAD -- Beginning with a 10-kilometer run and a five-kilometer walk scheduled for Sept. 19, Soldiers of Multi-National Division - Baghdad will have the chance to participate in a month-long series of events and celebrations honoring Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic heritage month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, is a time to celebrate and commemorate the contributions that Hispanic Americans have made to American culture and the U.S. Armed Forces, according to Sgt. 1st Class Tamatha Denton, assigned to Company A, Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.
Originally designated as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson, it was later given a whole month in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.
"Instead of being given a more orthodox time period, the commemoration starts on the 15th of September, which reflects the independence days of five Latin American countries; Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador," said Denton. "Additionally, the independence days of Mexico and Chile are the 16th and 18th of September, respectively."
The celebration ends Oct. 15th, marking Columbus Day (Oct. 12).
"Many of the Latin American countries celebrate Columbus Day as Americans do," said Denton. "However, some Latin countries know it as Discovery Day, the Day of the Race or the Day of the Cultures."
Hispanic Americans have made significant contributions to the American Armed Forces, with more than 40 Medal of Honor recipients dating back to the Civil War, according to Denton.
During the Korean War, the Boriqueneers (Buccaneers) of the 65th Infantry Regiment, Puerto Rican National Guard, led the last recorded battalion-sized bayonet charge by the U.S. Army on two hills held by the Chinese 149th Division on Feb. 2, 1951.
Hispanic Americans continue to serve proudly in the Armed Forces, at home and abroad, in the Global War on Terrorism.
"I personally think of Hispanic Heritage Month as a time to look back and see the many contributions from Hispanics of all walks of life; what they contributed to our military and our country," said Sgt. 1st Class Frank Rodriguez, from San Marcos, Texas, assigned to Co. A, DSTB, 1st Cav. Div. "The thing I like most is that it gets to show everyone the culture, heritages and background and we can learn from that."
In the coming weeks, there will be several events scheduled in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, including a softball tournament, a soccer tournament and movies every Friday at the division dining facility.
Also, for the Hispanic Heritage Month 10k run/5k walk, the first 400 participants to show up on Sept. 19 will receive a t-shirt. It will kick off at Z Lake at 6 a.m.
There will be an observance day on Oct. 9, complete with ethnic food cooked by Soldiers following family recipes, a salsa band and two dance groups in an effort to bring Hispanic culture to Iraq and share it.