News: USARJ, Okinawa celebrates Hispanic American Heritage Month
Story by Charles Steitz
TORII STATION, Okinawa Japan – On Oct. 15th, the 10th Regional Support Group, Headquarters and Headquarters Company hosted a 90-minute program in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month at Havana’s Restaurant on Torii Station, Okinawa, Japan.
Sept. 15th marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month and the anniversary of independence for five Hispanic countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico achieved its independence on Sept. 16 and Chile on Sept. 18. Today, Hispanics are one of the fastest growing minority groups in our country. Totaling over 35 million, Hispanics now make up 15 percent of our nation’s population and represent a broad spectrum of color, cultural values, and political beliefs.
During the presentation a slide show was shown recognizing the achievements of several famous Hispanic Americans along with a 20 minute video of Master Sgt. (Ret.) Roy P. Benavidez, a Medal of Honor recipient, from the Vietnam War. The words expressed by Benavidez reminded all that freedom is not free and the incredible commitment and dedication made by Hispanics serving in the military.
Immediately following the video Lt. Col. Eric A. Martinez, commander, U.S. Army Garrison, Torii Station provided remarks highlighting the importance of cultural diversity and family ties. Martinez has a rich diverse background growing up in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico where he met his wife the former Heidi E. Fonrodona. They have spent the past 20 years defending our freedom and liberties.
“It was American writer, educator and historian William Loren Katz, that said: "The history of the United States is the story of people of many backgrounds." His words captured the essence of diversity and highlight the importance of diversity in our country.”
“I am a firm believer that our diversity is what makes us stronger,” said Martinez. “Everyone is equal in worth, and is entitled to the same privileges and opportunities regardless of their age, national origin, disability, gender, or race. Each one of us has our own unique background and talents and has something to contribute.”
During this month, we proudly recognize Hispanics for their contributions to this great country. Now and long ago, Hispanics have taken their place among the leadership in family, business, politics, education, sports, science, and the arts. As a result of their contributions to American history, their Hispanic heritage is a thread interwoven into the fabric of a greater America.
“I challenge Hispanics that are in here today to continue working hard and to create the conditions that would ensure success of future generations,” said Martinez. “I would ask that you mentor, teach and coach others and help them to get to where you are at today. Follow the lead of all those that came before us, help us make things better for us and for America. There is so much to do, and we Hispanics, we have to do our part too.”