By Lori NewmanOctober 14, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, several events were recently held on Fort San Houston.
A post-wide commemoration at the Sam Houston Club Oct. 1 included guest speaker Richard Lopez, field office director, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in San Antonio.
Lopez spoke about prominent Hispanic icons including local leaders such as San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro; Dr. Daniel Juarez from the University of Texas Health Science Center; Edward Prado, a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; Dr. Richard Romo, president of the University of Texas San Antonio; former Bexar County Sherriff Ralph Lopez, who is his uncle; retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Alfred "Freddie" Valenzuela; and former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros.
"All these individuals have a variety of skill sets between them, but I would like to focus on two people, former Bexar County Sherriff Ralph Lopez and Dr. Danny Juarez," Lopez said. "Both of these individuals had truly humble begins."
He told the audience about their upbringing on the west side of San Antonio in a poor neighborhood.
"The foundation for their success and becoming leaders in the community is attributable to the respect of and the advice given to them by their parents," Lopez said.
"Always remember where you came from, be proud of who you are and always do the best job you can on any task you are given,'" Lopez said. "I took that advice to heart."
After graduating from Texas State University with a degree in business management, he landed a job with HUD as an urban intern.
Lopez said he had many mentors throughout his career.
"The underlying theme is we are very proud of our culture. But it's also about taking ownership of your career and your life," Lopez said. "Find your niche and persevere."
The event at the Sam Houston Club included Hispanic food sampling and entertainment by the Guadalupe Flamenco Dance Group, which included several dances and a Grito throwing contest.
Throwing "Grito" is a colloquial term for a loud howl mariachis use. It can be traced to the Grito de Dolores or "Cry of Dolores" a battle cry used during the Mexican War of Independence according to the Encyclopedia Britannica's website.
Brooke Army Medical Center's Hispanic Heritage Month event Oct. 4, was highlighted by Sabor a Cultura, a Puerto Rican group playing acoustic-style music. The event included a display about Puerto Rico and an Hispanic heritage quiz.
The Hacienda Recreation Center held their celebration Oct. 7 for about 150 Soldiers from the 32nd Medical Brigade. A clip from the movie "Stand and Deliver," starring Edward James Olmos, was shown.
The movie is based on the true story of Jaime Escalante, a math teacher at East Los Angeles' Garfield High, who refused to write off his inner-city students, teaching them to become math wizards.
The Guadalupe Flamenco Dance Group from the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center also performed several regional dances, receiving a standing ovation from the Soldiers.
"I loved it! It was so wonderful it made me cry to see so much Hispanic influence in the program," said Spc. Claudia Maydana, Company C, 187th Medical Battalion.
"Mr. Escalante, the teacher in the movie is from Bolivia. I, too, am from Bolivia, so it was very special."
"I thought the program was very good, very different and very relaxing," said Spc. Richard Urio, Company D, 264th Medical Battalion.
(Ben Paniagua contributed to this story)