2018-09-28 / Front Page

Hispanic culture: ‘A blending of many nations’

Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


The Chilean national flag makes its entrance for the Hispanic Heritage Month program Sept. 20, with the Panamanian national flag a few steps behind. Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office The Chilean national flag makes its entrance for the Hispanic Heritage Month program Sept. 20, with the Panamanian national flag a few steps behind. Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office The Fort Gordon community celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with its annual command program Sept. 20 at Signal Theater, sponsored by 15th Signal Brigade.

Each year, Americans observe Hispanic Heritage Month from mid-September to mid-October.

This year’s theme is “One Endless Voice to Enhance Our Tradition.”

“It is a time to celebrate the history, culture, contributions, and sacrifices Hispanic Americans have made to help and continue to help make our country the great nation that it is,” said Col. John Batson, 15th Regimental Signal Brigade commander.

Sept. 15 was chosen as the start date for Hispanic Heritage Month because it is the independence anniversary of five Hispanic countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.


Got rhythm? On display Sept. 20 on the stage at Signal Theater are dance moves from a variety of territory where Spanish is the primary language. This year’s command program for Hispanic Heritage Month was sponsored by the 15th Signal Brigade. Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Got rhythm? On display Sept. 20 on the stage at Signal Theater are dance moves from a variety of territory where Spanish is the primary language. This year’s command program for Hispanic Heritage Month was sponsored by the 15th Signal Brigade. Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Other Hispanic countries celebrated during this time include Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, U.S. territory Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

As part of the observance, Soldiers taking part in the program ran down the aisles and onto the stage waving flags that represented Hispanic countries.

Several took a few minutes to share their heritage with the audience. Representing Colombia, Sgt. 1st Class Barcenas, is a first generation from her family born in the United States.

Barcenas, 15th RSB Equal Opportunity advisor, said that much like other Hispanics, she is very proud of her heritage.

“I try to visit my roots as much as I can and teach my children it’s a beautiful history ... passing on our culture traditions and language to my children is very important to me,” Barcenas said.

With more than 133,000 Hispanics serving in the U.S. military, Hispanics have deep roots in America’s history.

“Hispanic Heritage Month is an important opportunity for all of us to understand and value not just the incredible contributions of the past, but to celebrate the diversity that makes and unites America’s military the strongest and most diverse force on the planet,” Batson said.

Shortly after Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898, the 65th Infantry Regiment was formed.

Also known as the “Borinqueneers,” it was the only Hispanic segregated unit in the Army.

Despite being denied equal benefits and honors for their service, the legendary 65th Inf. Reg. fought in every global war of the 20th Century. Honored guest and Army retiree, Sgt 1st Class Monserrate Ortiz-Lugo, said he was proud to have served in the regiment.

Born in Puerto Rico, Ortiz-Lugo volunteered for the Army in 1948 and fought in the Korean War alongside others in the 65th Inf. Reg.

Reflecting on his time there, Ortiz-Lugo said, “The memories are conflicting because there’s a lot of happiness for something that was not very happy. To be in that peninsula at that time under the circumstances that we were; but things changed for the better. And this is for the best.”

Ortiz-Lugo was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal replica and plaque as tokens of appreciation for his service.

Holding the medal, Ortiz-Lugo told the audience receiving it was a “proud moment” for him.

“And I’m very proud to see so many in the service as I was one time,” he added.

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