Story and photo by Stephanie Bryant
Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs
HONOLULU — Tripler Army Medical Center’s Hispanic Heritage Month observance filled Kyser Auditorium, here, Sept. 20.
The annual observance, which runs Sept. 15-Oct. 15, celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
TAMC Soldiers — Sgt. Kris Concepcion, Veterinary Services, Pacific Regional Veterinary Command, and Sgt. Jason Brauer, Department of Radiology, TAMC — demonstrated Brazilian jiujitsu, a martial art, combat sport and self-defense system that focuses on grappling and ground fighting.
Sgt. Margaret Jordan, executive aide to Command Sgt. Maj. William Franklin, senior enlisted leader, Pacific Regional Medical Command, was guest speaker.
Jordan, who is of Mexican heritage, said she was deeply humbled by the invitation to speak. She shared her own personal identity struggle as she was growing up in Southern California.
“It was at a time when I was becoming socially aware, about the age of 7, and I had this misconceived notion about ethnicity,” Jordan said. “What I was doing, and what I found was pretty prevalent among my friends, was claiming that I was Spanish. I had this notion that if I convinced others I was of European descent, then I could somehow justify my Hispanic roots.”
She admitted that, while on her path to self-acceptance, she would get frustrated with people when they asked about her background.
“I was angry that people would presume to judge me based off of my ethnicity, like I had nothing else to offer more than where my people came from,” Jordan explained. “It never occurred to me that people were genuinely interested in who I was or where I came from.”
It was not until her daughter was born that Jordan realized she needed to re-evaluate her self-image and question her attitude.
“I needed to set an example and embrace a healthy attitude about who I was and what that meant,” Jordan said. “I am an American.”
Jordan reminded everyone that America is the most diverse nation in the world, and she is proud of that.
Col. Glenda Lock, deputy commander of nursing, PRMC and TAMC, closed out the celebration by stressing the importance of diversity in our nation.
Lock said that the strength of our nation and of its humanity is that we embrace diversity.
“We need to embrace our differences,” Lock said.