National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Also, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and 18, respectively.

Throughout American history Hispanic Americans have always come together in service to our nation and our Army. It is therefore fitting, that for this year's National Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate the theme of Many Backgrounds, Many Stories...One American Spirit. Hispanic American Soldiers have shown their true American Spirit and commitment to our Army and our Nation. This spirit is alive and well in our Soldiers serving in harm's way today in Afghanistan and Iraq.

During Hispanic American Heritage Month, we emphasize the value the Army places on diversity. We are Army Strong because we not only place great value in having different perspectives, approaches, and skills but also because we value having ethnic and cultural diversity. The Army has always recognized the commitment and effort of its Hispanic Soldiers. Soldiers like Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry, a Hispanic American, an Army Ranger, and a Medal of Honor recipient is an example of one who was recently honored for his courage and selfless sacrifice by saving the lives of his comrades.

Today, we are Army Strong because we leverage and draw strength from the rich diversity within our ranks. At a crucial time in history, Hispanic Americans, military and civilian, are playing critical roles in strengthening our Nations presence around the world. Every year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the Army will highlight and honor Hispanic American military and civil service members at all levels. We will continue to recruit the best and the brightest Soldiers to fill our ranks and Hispanic Americans will be duly represented.

Hispanic Americans play a vital role in the Army of today they are leaders: officers, non-commissioned officers, and civil service leaders they are doctors, pilots, mechanics, military police officers, engineers, and senior managers.

Throughout our history, Hispanic Americans have made sacrifices for our nation above their own. They have proven that when freedom is threatened, they are equal to any task...and when their country calls, they respond.