By Sgt. 1st Class Rhonda M. Lawson, 3rd Sustainment Brigade Public AffairsOctober 15, 2009
FORT STEWART, Ga. --Soldiers across the installation were treated to a history lesson unlike any other during the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration held at the Main Post Chapel, Oct. 8.
The celebration, hosted by the 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, featured Hispanic dance demonstrations, a tribute to NCOs, and Hispanic displays.
However, the highlight for most was the guest speaker, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Alfred A. Valenzuela, a 33-year veteran, former 3rd ID deputy commander (support), and author of the book, "No Greater Love: The Lives and Times of Hispanic Soldiers."
His speech touched on the challenges Hispanic Soldiers face in respect to identity.
"Hispanics have been around for 234 years. They have every right to be proud like anyone else," he said. "Some of us don't know who we are."
He later noted that four of the 42 Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients were not U.S. citizens.
Of the 21 Soldiers killed in combat that he helped bury, many weren't U.S. citizens either. However, he said they fought and died for their adopted country.
Following the speech, Maj. Gen. Valenzuela helped promote Sgt. Betzaida Santana to staff sergeant in honor of the Year of the NCO. The Hinesville Hispanic Club then demonstrated dances from Puerto Rico, Mexico and other Hispanic countries.
The program ended with free food samplings sponsored by a local restaurant.
"I thought it was a well diverse, well put together program," said Sgt. Emily Caraballo, an S1 (personnel) NCO at the NCO Academy. "I learned a lot, especially about Hispanics in the military."
"It was a very entertaining speech," added Spc. Steven Re, a driver with 226th Quartermaster Co., 87th CSSB. "It provided a lot of insight. The dances were very good."
The next cultural observance will be Native American History Month, sponsored by the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.