News: Celebrating ancestors' success during Hispanic Heritage Month luncheon
Story by Lance Cpl. James Smith
IWAKUNI, Japan - On Sept. 16, 1810, in small town named Dolores near Guanajuato, Mexico, a cry for independence was heard starting the Mexican War of Independence. On Sept. 15, 1821, five countries in Central America also fought for their Independence.
Fast forward to 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson started an observance in September for Hispanic Heritage Week. Twenty years later, President Ronald Regan enacted a law Aug. 17, 1988, extending the observance to a 30-day period.
Moving to the present, station residents gathered inside the Club Iwakuni ballroom aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration Oct. 10, 2013.
“To me, Hispanic Heritage Month is that opportunity of seeing how other people lived, acknowledging how we lived and being able to find a common ground,” said Sharon Adams, station sexual assault response coordinator. “Every culture has the ability to enhance individuals who come from it, but when we are all mixed together, we are allowed to share our stories, our experiences and somewhat cultivate one another.”
The luncheon included a special menu consisting of Spanish rice, blackened steak, churros and many other Hispanic dishes to compliment the atmosphere.
Students from Matthew C. Perry Elementary School started the celebration with the Mexican folk dance “El Jarabe Tapatio,” or better known as “The Mexican Hat Dance.”
Once the children finished their dance, Col. Bob Boucher, MCAS Iwakuni commanding officer, addressed those in attendance before introducing this year’s guest speaker: Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sandy Alvarez, Installation Personnel Administrative Center director with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron.
During her speech, Alvarez talked about her family’s past and their coming to America, her time growing up in schools and her career in the Marine Corps, but constantly emphasized equality throughout her speech.
“I was treated so equally growing up that I never realized I was part of a minority,” said Alvarez. “My mother showered her three children with equal love and equal push to succeed. I was treated so equally by my schools and my educators who gave me the same opportunities as other classmates...even though I knew things weren’t the same in the United States.”
Alvarez concluded her speech by reflecting on how the equality she received assisted her throughout her Marine Corps career and how she continues to defend the country she has learned to love.