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Gathering celebrates Hispanic heritage
Guest speaker Chief Master Sgt. Jose Barraza shares national and personal perspectives during the Hispanic Heritage Fiesta, held in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Oct. 15 at the Officers' Club. (Air Force photo/Bennett Rock)
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Gathering celebrates Hispanic heritage

Posted 10/29/2010   Updated 10/29/2010 Email story   Print story

    

10/29/2010 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Guest speaker Chief Master Sgt. Jose Barraza enlightened the audience on the value of heritage at the Hispanic Heritage Fiesta.

The event Oct. 15 at the Officers' Club was held to mark National Hispanic Heritage Month, which stretches from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The theme this year was "Heritage, Diversity, Integrity and Honor: The Renewed Hope of America."

Chief Barraza gave a passionate, lively discussion on Hispanic heritage, both from a national and personal perspective.

Although Chief Barraza noted that when people think of Hispanic heritage, the first aspects that come to mind are "food, family and music," Hispanic culture is more significant than that. The event is designed to "celebrate our culture, histories and contributions," both as individuals and from countries of ancestors' origins, he said. National examples of Hispanics who made a difference included Cesar Chavez, a Mexican-American farm worker who became a national icon by fighting for migrant workers' rights, and Sonia Sotomayor, a Puerto Rican-American who rose up "by way of the leadership of her parents" from her upbringing in the Bronx to become a Supreme Court Justice.

Chief Barraza noted that even those who don't make the headlines can become "the renewed hope of America" through "making a difference in our communities."
He listed two people in particular who served as an inspiration for him: His father and father-in-law. Chief Barraza said of his father-in-law, who chatted with him often. "The way he spoke drew you in. ... He made a lasting impression on me."

He later learned that his father-in-law learned to communicate not by attending college but by reading newspapers. Chief Barraza's father came from Mexico, seeking a better life for his family, and became an expert mechanic.

"Your excellence is demonstrated in results," said Chief Barraza, and his father's excellence is demonstrated in a business that has thrived for more than 20 years, as well as the friends his father has made in the course of his business.

Another example Chief Barraza cited was Chief Master Sgt. Jose Alvaro, who Chief Barraza stated reminded him of his father, in that he "impacts people across the Air Force" and has "never forgotten his roots."

Though some question why Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from the middle of one month to the middle of another month, Chief Barraza said it "falls at a perfect time for Hispanics."

In addition to Dia de la Raza in October, celebrated in this country as Columbus Day, the month span encompasses the independence days for many Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua on Sept. 15, Mexico on Sept. 16 and Chile on Sept. 18. According to Chief Barraza, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, and the observance was expanded in 1988 to a monthlong celebration.



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