Luncheon set to bring Hispanic culture to Fort Jackson

DELAWESE FULTON, Fort Jackson Leader

Through music, dance, food and reflection, Fort Jackson will observe Hispanic Heritage Month with a luncheon Oct. 6.

Fort Jackson has celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month for more than 10 years, said Master Sgt. Eriberto Rivera, the post's chief equal opportunity support officer. The U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute is hosting the event, which is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Solomon Center.

"We hope that everyone will break out of the norm (of his or her day), come out and learn a little about our culture," Rivera said.

Nationally, Hispanic Heritage Month is recognized Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.
SSI is expecting about 450 people to attend the post's event. Tickets for the luncheon cost $5 and include a tasting of variety of Hispanic dishes. Guests will also be treated to remarks from Manuel Gaetan, a board member of the S.C. Hispanic Leadership Council.

With "Embracing the Fierce Urgency of Now" as this year's national theme of Hispanic Heritage Month, Gaetan said, via e-mail, that his speech would keep to that theme but he would not elaborate. It is expected that Gaetan will discuss the achievements of and hopes for the Hispanic community.

According to a 2008 report of the Pew Hispanic Center, the Latino population is already the U.S.'s largest minority group. It is expected that by 2050, Hispanics will make up 29 percent of the population in the United States.

Rivera added that the theme speaks to the community's need to ensure that its culture and its people are recognized and respected nationally and globally.

"It means to ensure that we're well represented as a group in all levels of society - as teachers ... lawyers and ... doctors," Rivera said.

In addition, in hopes of fostering and encouraging an esprit de corps and cultural awareness within military ranks, SSI Soldiers and staff have prepared displays featuring aspects of Hispanic culture and achievement.

At the luncheon Tuesday, guests will be able to sample dishes from various countries. There will be rice and pork dishes from Puerto Rico; tacos, an apple dessert and flan from Mexico; rice and seafood from Spain; and empanadillas, which are turnover-like pastries from Puerto Rico and Spain.

Rivera urges the community to come out and share in the event.

Fort Jackson's Hispanic Heritage luncheon is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at the Installation Equal Opportunity Office on 3230 Sumter Road, Suite D. For more information, call 751-7163 or e-mail

Editor's note:Aca,!E+The photo of Manuel Geatan is courtesy of Alt Lee Photographers.