Story and photos by Sgt. Edwin Gray, 29th MPAD
BAGHDAD – Soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division and United States Division - Center came together Oct. 7 to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month at Camp Liberty, Iraq.
The purpose of the gathering was to reflect on the Hispanic commitment in the U.S. military and to inform others about the history of Hispanic culture through dance and ceremony.
The cultural backgrounds of 22 Hispanic countries were displayed and represented at the celebration, and many Soldiers were pleased with the diverse turnout.
“I think the diversity is most important because it creates the dynamics for our force to be multi-dimensional, as opposed to being one dimensional with one type of Soldier,” said Staff Sgt. Emanuel Alvarez, a platoon sergeant with the Personal Security Detachment with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 25th Inf. Div. “The fact that we are from many different places from all across the world and can join the United States Army is a great thing. This Army is a melting pot of people all over the world and that is a great contributor to our success as a military overall.”
The hosts said they were extremely proud of being able to present many unique sectors of Hispanic heritage. They also felt the event was a success and were gratified to be a part of it.
“I am proud of who I am and where I come from,” said Spc. Gina Palacios an administrative specialist for the command group of the 25th Inf. Div. “We work very hard to have what we have here today and I am so proud of the turn out and everyone that I worked with.”
For many Soldiers, the assembly was informative. Several Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients were recognized and honored, which many Soldiers at the event felt brought a special significance with it being in a deployed environment.
“I believe being deployed made this event that much special because I actually got to see all of the different Hispanic (people) from different Latin American countries that serve along with me that I rarely get to see,” said Alvarez. “It also shows that the Army actually does recognize its roots from other cultural backgrounds so it was very special.”
Staff Sgt. Esmeralda Hernandez, a supply sergeant for signal operations with 25th Inf. Div., along with Chief Warrant Officer 2 Aaron Sargent, targeting officer with the 25th Inf. Div., performed four different types of Hispanic dance including the Salsa in tribute to Hispanic History. Many in attendance said they were impressed by and proud of the overall event. Some felt this showed how diverse the U.S. military is, and it also helps to display many of the various stories within the Hispanic culture.
“We should all be proud of who we are and who we fight for,” said Sgt. Dolores Rivera, a communications shop noncommissioned officer in charge with the 25th Inf. Div. “We are many countries united with many stories but we are all just one Army.”