Schofield Barracks honors service members’ Hispanic heritage, culture

| October 22, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photos by
Pfc. Marcus Fichtl 
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

Soldiers experience Hispanic cuisine after the heritage observance at Sgt. Smith Theater on Schofield Barracks, Oct. 13. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated Sept. 15 to Oct 15. SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — September 15, 1821, five Latin-American nations, whose citizens sought a better life in a new world, declared their independence from Spain. 

October 13, 2010, Soldiers of all backgrounds joined the rest of the U.S. to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, helping ensure that the 200-year-old ideal of freedom remains alive and well across the globe.

The celebration, held at the Sgt. Smith Theater, here, incorporated dance, music, food and other aspects of Hispanic culture, and culminated with a speech from Fernando Castillo, a pastor at New Hope Church, Diamond Head.

“It’s important to encourage Hispanic-Americans to understand their investment in society — what it means to be a Hispanic-American, understand one’s heritage and how it effects the society we live in — especially those with Hispanic backgrounds who have put on the uniform and become part of the rich heritage of America,” Castillo said. 

Hispanic nations encompass a large portion of the Americas, from Mexico in North America, to the Tierra del Fuego on the southern tip of Argentina and Chile. And Hispanic people and the culture encompass the entirety of the Americas, including the United States and its armed forces.

“I recognize (that) in civilian life, we sometimes don’t appreciate what the military and their families have to go through,” said Castillo, “but it makes the nation stronger, especially the diversity. (Soldiers) don’t see the race.”

Castillo, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1997, said he recognized how much the ideals of the U.S. meant to him and fit with his identity, much like many Hispanics who have joined the U.S. military.

“I think America represents a lot of the ideals that people want, and that’s why they look up to this nation so much,” he added. “For me, to become a citizen was an easy choice.”

Madeline Martell and Ever Gutierrez demonstrate the salsa, a dance originating in Cuba, for a crowd of Soldiers at the Hispanic heritage observance on Schofield Barracks, Oct. 13. Although Spc. Myriam Rodriguez, military police, 39th MP Detachment, 728th MP Battalion, 8th MP Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, proudly claims Puerto Rican heritage, she said she identifies as an American. 

“In America, everyone is American, no matter where you are from,” Rodriguez explained. “You can’t say ‘I’m more American than you.’”

Many who attended the event noted the similarities between the Hispanic culture and the American military community. Family values and a strong work ethic are tremendously important in both cultures.

“Hispanic people are really hard-working people, and that hard-working ethic is a great addition to military culture,” Castillo said. “If you work hard, you will do well here. And if you’re going to leave a family to build a new family, what better place than the military?”

Castillo offered a few words of advice for non-Hispanics who might be afraid to dive into that salsa class, visit that new Guatemalan restaurant or simply to seek a deeper understanding of Hispanic culture.

“We are some of the most gracious and welcoming people,” Castillo said. “Be yourself and we will accept you, as the United States has accepted people from all around the world.”

Category: News, Observances

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