Army Hawaii celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Spc. Lymari Rodriguez is Puerto Rican and was inspired to enlist in the United States Army by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She never forgot, and after attending college in Puerto Rico she enlisted in the United States Army to contribute to the Global War on Terror.
Sgt. Maj. Rogelio A. Davidson hails from Panama. His father sacrificed a promising engineering career there to bring Davidson and his siblings to Brooklyn, New York in 1979. Davidson always admired the service and contribution that American Soldiers made to his native country. He enlisted upon graduating from high school.
In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson obtained authorization from Congress to proclaim a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988, the observance was expanded by President Ronald Reagan to a month-long commemoration, beginning September 15 and ending October 15. This year was the 20th annual celebration - the theme being, "Getting Involved: Our Families, Our Community, Our Nation."
"When we get involved, we can make a difference. When we get involved, we make things better. When we get involved we strengthen our country," said Sgt. 1st Class Erika A. Gordon, event coordinator and equal opportunity advisor, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.
In the spirit of individuals making a difference, the observance honored five Hispanic icons who embodied the meaning of this year's theme. The five Hispanic heroes were each recognized by an individual of the same national origin.
Sgt. 1st Class Miguel A. Ramirez, 25th Infantry Division Equal Opportunity Office, represented Mexican activist Cesar Chavez, hailed as one of the greatest America civil rights leaders. Spc. Lymari Rodriguez, 3-25 Avn. Regt., 25th CAB, introduced attendees to Puerto Rican baseball player and philanthropist Roberto Clemente. Spc. Sylvia Padilla, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, highlighted the contributions of Dominican Republic community activist Fernando Mateo. Staff Sgt. Sandra B. Quintano, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, spoke of El Salvadorian Military Humanitarian Consul, Col. Jose Arturo Castellanos and 1st Secretary and Honorary Consul George Mantello. Finally, Mr. Jesus Puertos, invitee and proprietor of Soul De Cuba Café in Honolulu, showcased Cuban League Against Cancer founder, Lourdes P. Aguila.
"I was honored to be considered to do something like this for our military service community," said Puertos. "I cannot begin to really understand the commitment of the military for all of us. The work they do with not only the war effort, but also the community development work that they do all over the world," he continued. "Participating today and helping to educate everyone on the work of Cuban Lourdes P. Aguila was the least I could do."
The celebration was also marked by a traditional Bolivian music and dance demonstration by Mr. Ronald A. Hurtado De Mendoza Munoz, his two daughters and young son featuring the Charanga, a traditional 10 double-stringed instrument, and a Bolivian dance called the "Caporal." The event culminated with a Salsa performance by retired 1st Sgt. Ever Gutierrez, United States Army Guard Reserve-Oahu, and Sgt. 1st Class Anna Cortes, 205th Military Intelligence Battalion, who also expressed her gratitude for being able to participate in the celebration.
Static displays were just one of the many items featured by the 25th Infantry Division during its 2008 Hispanic Heritage Month Observance at Sgt. Smith Theater, Schofield Barracks.
"I'm from Chile," explained Cortes. "This event is close to my heart because this is my heritage in which I have great pride and honor. For that reason, I'm grateful to be here to share my culture and to help others celebrate the Hispanic culture," she said.
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