CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Sept. 28, 2012) -- Camp Zama celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, honoring the culture and history of Hispanic and Latino Americans, with an observance held Sept. 26 at the Community Activity Center here.

Hispanic Heritage Month is observed annually from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. The theme for this year is "Diversity United: Building America's Future Today."

The observance featured remarks from a guest speaker and cultural performances, both of which demonstrated to those in attendance the significance of Hispanic-American culture. A number of vibrant Latin dance performances by Luis Sasaki, a Dominican Republic native and dancer and choreographer based in Tokyo, and members of the Caribe Latin Dance Team served as the event's main showcase.

The guest speaker, Col. Nora R. Marcos, deputy chief of staff for G-6 at U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward), highlighted several key figures in the history of Hispanic Americans in the military, providing insight into the lives of those who worked to enrich their nation and society.

"What Hispanic American Heritage Month means is that it is important to the Department of Defense to recognize the contributions of minorities -- and that's huge," said Marcos. "That diversity strengthens our country, it strengthens our military and it strengthens our national strategy, I think."

Marcos, a native of Brownsville, Texas, joined the Army in 1990. She previously served as the chief of Strategic Plans and Programs for the U.S. Forces Korea J-6.

"What I want people in the Camp Zama community to take away [from this event] is that we are more similar than we are different," said Marcos. "Our differences are what spice [life] up and make it interesting, but at the end of the day, what we want is to improve the situation for us and our children."

After the observance, the Zama Latin American Club hosted a fiesta in an adjacent room at the CAC. There were musical performances from the U.S. Army Japan Band and homemade Mexican cuisine available.

More than 200 people attended the event, including Soldiers, family members and children from Camp Zama's School Age Services.