Local historical figure remembered in National Hispanic Heritage Month

Special interest observances are conducted to recognize the continuous achievements of all Americans to American culture and to increase awareness, mutual respect and understanding. They are designed to enhance cross-cultura1 and cross-gender awareness and promote harmony among all military members, their families and the civilian work force. They are set aside annually to recognize the achievements and contributions made by members of specific groups in our society. The focus of the observance should be directed toward encouraging interaction and not just recognition. Success can best be measured by the degree of cross-cultura1 and cross-gender participation.

Observances are held annually in support of Joint Congressional Resolution, Presidential Proclamation, and achievements of all groups that comprise the society of the United States. Since 1968, the Department of Defense has proudly supported observances through the development of local programs of recognition and many diverse activities. The U.S. president is hereby authorized and requested to issue annually a proclamation designating the 31-day period beginning Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15 as ''National Hispanic Heritage Month'' and calling upon the people of the United States, especially the educational community, to observe such month with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

This month the nation will be celebrating a culture and people that have done much for the United States and have asked very little in the end. Here at Hill Air Force Base, during "National Hispanic Heritage Month" we will be recognizing a few individuals that you may or may not know about. They each have contributed during their lives to the United States. The first person we will be introducing is Loreta Janet Velazquez.

Velazquez, of Cuban descent, served in the Civil War as a spy for both the Union and Confederate Armies posing as Lt. Harry T. Buford. During her service she met President Abraham Lincoln and found him to be very humble and not the uneducated individual that her Confederate counterparts portrayed him to be. Her disguise was discovered, she was released from service and she again enlisted to continue serving. After the war she later toured the world traveling to Europe and South America. She returned to the United States and continued her adventures traveling across the states. She settled in Utah for a time and met President Brigham Young and many other leaders of the LDS Church. She felt that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was misunderstood. She stayed with Bishop Nilo Andrews, and was befriended by his wives. Her life was full of adventure and you can find out more about her in her book "The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of … Her Residence among the Mormons; Her Love Affairs, Courtships, Marriages, etc., etc."

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