Fort Benning honors Hispanic Heritage Month 2016
By Gerald Williams, Bayonet & Saber /
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Oct. 5, 2016) — The Fort Benning community came together Sept. 29 to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Martin Army Community Hospital.
“The Fort Benning Equal Opportunity Office, Martin Army Community Hospital and WHINSEC pulled together in a trifecta in order to make this event happen,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Blackwell, Fort Benning Installation Equal Opportunity Office. “The significance of Hispanic Heritage Month shows diversity and contributions by many people. That’s what we wanted to display here at the hospital by bringing everybody in the Fort Benning community together.”
The presentation included guest dancer Natasha Ruiz-Freeman.
“This event is very important to me because it is an honor to celebrate my heritage,” said Ruiz-Freeman. “My mother is from Cuba and my father came from the Dominican Republic. I’m just excited that they made it to America and had me. It is such an honor to share the talent that runs through my blood so strongly.”
“It’s important to have a relationship with Hispanics because they bring contributions to the Army that the Army needs,” said Blackwell. “Dating back to the Civil War, they have sacrificed themselves to better the nation. Those contributions, not just sacrifices, but also the things that they bring in leadership and culture make the Army better.
Guest speaker Master Sgt. Luis O. Perez, operations master sergeant for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, spoke about the achievements made by the Hispanic community.
“The Army gives you the opportunity to excel,” said Perez. “It has given me everything. I have a Master’s degree. I teach classes in the community. I have had a chance to do that thanks to my military education.”
“The sense of family is very strong in Hispanic, Latin American communities,” said Blackwell. “The mentality of becoming one brings together a kind of unity that is unique in Latin American communities.”
“We continue to train our Soldiers on how to promote diversity. We do that through training, education and conducting these observances. The next observance is November 18 for Native American Heritage Month.”