Since the founding of America, Hispanics have played a crucial role in the shaping of America, from business to military service, from government to literature and science.

Team Redstone celebrated those achievements and the contributions Hispanic Americans have made and continue to make today at Team Redstone's Hispanic American Heritage Month observance program, Sept. 25 at Bob Jones Auditorium. Observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, coinciding with the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua Sept. 15, and Mexico and Chile, Sept. 16 and Sept. 18 respectively, this year's theme is "Diversity United, Building America's Future Today."

"Great achievements by Hispanics have been accomplished not only globally and nationally, but right here in our hometown of Huntsville, Alabama," said A.R. "Rey" Almodóvar, co-founder and chief executive officer of Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation, keynote speaker at the observance.

Almodóvar cited numerous examples of those achievements, including baseball hall of famer Roberto Clemente, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and countless Hispanics who served in the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War, including many who "have paid the ultimate price to defend our nation and our freedoms," he said.

"I could spend the whole day here giving you examples of Hispanic achievements, of their economic and social impact. The message is clear, since the day our founding fathers formed the idea of creating a sovereign nation named the United States of America, Hispanics have been there shoulder to shoulder helping craft this great nation."

As one of those success stories himself, Almodóvar offered words of advice for what can be done to build the future of America today, such as being a good listener, sharing your culture and learning about other cultures, taking charge and exceeding what leadership expects, and being aware of what your organization's mission is.

"It is clear that developing and maintaining a united and diversified work force that will take us into the future will require leadership and inclusion, but it also takes commitment and sacrifice from all of us, regardless of our race or ethnic background," he said. "We must carry our load, and we must do it proud and united."

Art contest winners for Hispanic Heritage Month include the following:

High school: Butler High -- 1. Kaylynn McGuire, 2. Maria Segura; art instructor John Moore, principal Lisa Hachar … Huntsville High -- 3. J'Nala LaPointe; art instructor Cynthia Quintela, principal Dr. Deborah Hargett

Middle school: Oakwood Adventist Academy -- 1. Chanel Manning, 2. Maleah Rhem, 3. Jayda Caldwell; art instructor Charlene Pembleton, principal Sharon Lewis … Mill Creek School -- 1. Lila Young, 2. Tae Eun Kim, 3. Mahala Barnes; art instructor Cathy Newby, principal Melanie Barkley … Westlawn -- 1. Aaron Thomas, 2. Synthia Avalos, 3. Demarrio Williams; art instructor Tara Dempsey, principal Presonia Alexander

Elementary school: 1. Emma Lingerfelt (Mill Creek Elementary), 2. Adia Allen (Oakwood Adventist Academy), 3. Austin Schamburg (Mill Creek Elementary); art instructors Cathy Newby (Mill Creek Elementary) and Charlene Pembleton (Oakwood Adventist Academy); principals Melanie Barkley (Mill Creek Elementary) and Sharon Lewis (Oakwood Adventist Academy)

Magnet school: Academy for Science & Foreign Language -- 1. Jakeysha Johnson, 2. Zoe Adams; art instructor Cathy Stimpson, principal Dr. Jennifer Garrett