Story and photo by
1st Lt. Grant Taulbee
130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Salsa music played as dancers performed traditional dances in observance of Hispanic-American Heritage Month, at Sergeant Smith Theater, here, Oct. 3.
Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15 each year.
The Department of Defense chose the theme “Diversity United, Building America’s Future Today” for this year’s observance.
All participants in the event, here, were volunteer Soldiers from the 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, and the 25th Infantry Division.
The event began with a cultural presentation of 21 Spanish-speaking countries, which included a brief history and description of ethnic groups from each country.
“It’s a good opportunity to learn about other cultures,” said Spc. Andrew Salinas, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Bde. Combat Team, who presented the country of Ecuador.
Salinas volunteered because he someday hopes to become a teacher of history or Spanish.
The dance presentation included traditional Hispanic music and dances, including the salsa, merengue and bachata.
Sgt. Henry Garcia, mechanic, 70th Eng. Company, 65th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Bde., and his wife were not intimidated about performing the dance presentation in front of the large crowd.
“My wife and I have been dancing for 13 years,” Garcia said. “You will see us out dancing every weekend.”
The keynote speaker for the event was Daniel Martinez, chief historian, Pearl Harbor Museum, who spoke of prominent Hispanic Soldiers from World War II.
“During World War II, these Latino Soldiers were part of the diversity that makes our country great,” Martinez said. “They were committed toward building America’s future, that future that we enjoy today.”
“It’s good to raise awareness,” said Staff Sgt. Dionisio Durang, equal opportunity adviser, Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 84th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde. “Soldiers come from all over the world, (and) we have events like this so we can learn about the different cultures.”
“The observance was great, and I loved seeing the Soldiers perform,” said Master Sgt. Diana Colon, equal opportunity adviser, 3rd BCT, 25th ID.
The event concluded with a cake-cutting ceremony and ethnic food sampling from various Hispanic countries.