Forty-eight years ago, a precedent was set in Hispanic-American culture. It began when President Lyndon B. Johnson officially established Hispanic Heritage Week, which has since evolved into a 31-day period starting Sept. 15 and ending Oct. 15.
Now in its 14th year as an officially recognized Department of Defense observance, the 2016 theme is “Embracing, Enriching, and Enabling America.”
Embracing – Undoubtedly, many Hispanics still look to the United States with promise, a land of opportunity where anyone can achieve the American Dream through hard work, devotion and perseverance. These very principles are the framework of this country and they are embraced by the Hispanic community in order to attain their pursuit of happiness.
As the nation’s largest minority, the Hispanic population continues to shape and strengthen the fabric of American culture through their unwavering commitment to family, faith, ingenuity, and public service. They enrich local culture with the addition of new language, values and ideals.
Hispanics have energized our nation’s diversity in a myriad of areas that enable America’s greatness. Immeasurable contributions toward the defense of this nation, performing arts, athletics, civil service, entrepreneurship, and agriculture are just a few that help keep the United States atop global competition – leaders of liberty.
Hispanic-Americans have left a lasting legacy in our nation’s defense.
Take for example, Captain Manuel J. Fernandez Jr., who ranks among the Air Force’s top aces with 125 combat missions and 14.5 victories during the Korean War.
Due to the award for maintenance excellence named in his honor, another frequently heard name is Lt. General Leo Marquez. Hill Air Force Base is often regarded as having one of the best working relationships with the Government Employees Union, largely made possible by the precedents set by Gen. Marquez during his tenure as the Ogden Air Logistics Commander.
This list goes on. But what do all of these icons have in common? They embody the values that we all take an oath to defend. Furthermore, those Airmen and all of us alike recited a creed that states, “I will never leave an Airman behind.” There is no distinction between race, gender, orientation, age, nor any other kind of diversity. We are simply Airmen, a single entity made up of countless backgrounds. While we celebrate the things that make us different, let’s not forget that we’re all part of the same family.
This year, Team Hill will be recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month by hosting a luncheon on Sept. 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Landing.
Hill Air Force Base’s very own Major Lupe Gutierrez, 388th Maintenance Squadron Commander, will provide his personal accounts on overcoming ethnic bias and inspiring diversity in the Air Force. RSVP by contacting Lt. Mark Torres at 801-777-5770 or through the e-invitation distributed by the Base Protocol Office.