News: Third Army hosts Hispanic American Heritage observance
Story by Staff Sgt. Rauel Tirado
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Third Army held a Hispanic American Heritage observance ceremony here Oct. 1. The event was part of several scheduled occurrences to observe Hispanic American Heritage Month Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, celebrating their rich culture and contributions to the U.S.
The ceremony featured dancers who performed the salsa, bachata and a freestyle routine that combined several different Hispanic styles of dance.
“For the routines, we practiced three days a week for a month,” said Staff Sgt. Rafael Ortiz, senior information technology specialist with Third Army and native of Naranjito, Puerto Rico. “It was a group effort. We had a lot of fun dancing for everyone.”
Ortiz said besides the dancing, the event was about showing and sharing a part of his culture with others.
“It’s great that the Army recognizes the Hispanic community,” said Ortiz. “It shows that in the Army, soldiers can come together from different cultures and get the job done.”
The ceremony also included a guest speaker who shared his Hispanic background of Mexican descent and his road to becoming a Navy general surgeon with the audience.
“During my childhood, I decided I wanted to be a doctor,” said Navy Cmdr. Alfredo Ramirez, general surgeon of Expeditionary Medical Facility-Kuwait and a Brownsville, Texas, native. “My high school guidance counselor tried to steer me into vocational school instead of college which was typical for most Mexican students.”
For Ramirez, becoming a doctor and finding a role model would prove to be difficult growing up in Brownsville with a large Mexican population of which most people didn’t have a college education.
Through his determination, Ramirez graduated from Southwest Texas State University with a bachelor of science degree. After graduation from STSU, he attended the University of Iowa on a Navy’s Health Professions scholarship and graduated with a doctorate of medicine.
Ramirez went on to complete an internship in general surgery at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
“I accomplished two of my goals,” said Ramirez. “First was to get a full scholarship for college. Second, contribute to the Hispanic American community as a role model to younger generations.”
Ramirez was presented a gift of appreciation from Col. Robert Cheatham, commander of Area Support Group-Kuwait and Springfield, Va., native.
“Ramirez represents a great example of a person committed to education and a contributor to his culture, the military and our nation,” said Cheatham.
The observance of Hispanic American Heritage Month is an example of Third Army’s equal opportunity program and its continued commitment to promoting and educating cultural diversity amongst service members.