Enjoy the flavors, colors and spirit of Hispanic heritage



by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs


9/13/2013 - Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. -- Bienvenido!

Welcoming the past, present and future contributions of the Air Force Latin American community, Maxwell will celebrate several events during the Department of Defense's Hispanic Heritage Month, starting Sunday-Oct. 15.

Brightly-colored banners, flavorful cuisine and traditional dances will infuse this year's theme, "Hispanics: Serving and Leading our Nation with Pride and Honor."

The month's festivities kick off at 1 p.m. Sept. 23 with the signing of the official proclamation by Col. Trent Edwards, commander of the 42nd Air Base Wing, inside the 42nd Medical Group atrium.

The festive month also will include exotic Latin cuisine and music during the "Taste of Hispanic Heritage" buffet from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 15 and on "Salsa Night" from 6-9 p.m. Oct. 18. Both events take place inside the Maxwell Event Center.

Committee chairperson Capt. Sierra Smith, base volunteers, and the equal opportunity office look forward to sharing the origin and significance of Hispanic heritage with the base community.

"I hope the members of the Maxwell-Gunter family take away the knowledge of Hispanic Americans' contribution and how we all contribute to the same team," Smith said. "Come out, learn, support one another and just have a good time in the process."

Hispanic Heritage Month, which celebrates the independence of several Latin American countries, is dedicated to the history and contemporary achievements of the Hispanic community and encourages the cultural diversity among the military.

Dr. Robert Kane, the Air University's Director of History, said the Hispanic community makes up 14 percent of the United States' population and 10 percent of U.S. active-duty military personnel.

"Of the many diverse groups that make up the fabric of Americas, Hispanics, people of Spanish background, mostly from Latin America, comprise one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic groups in this country," Kane said.

"It is vital for all Americans to know and understand the contributions that they have made to this nation," he added.

Large archival photographs of historical and contemporary figures in the military and civilian communities, contributed by the Air University's History Office, will be on display at the proclamation signing.

The display will highlight achievements of Hispanic American veterans, politicians, businessmen and active-duty military members, including 44 service members who have been awarded the Medal of Honor since the Civil War, Kane explained.

"During our history, Hispanic Americans have not only enjoyed the benefits of living in the United States, but they have also fought - and died - in all of America's wars and conflicts," Kane said.

The observation of Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period.

The Air University History Office contributed to this report