Rosa Flott came to Walter Reed Bethesda on Sept. 27 for her outpatient treatment not feeling her best, but before leaving the America Building later the same day, the native of Columbia, South America had danced a salsa, was "feeling great" and smiling broadly.
Flott explained she heard the music of the Sol y Rumba band emanating from the building's atrium to an upper floor she was on, and came down to enjoy it.
The band was part of the Hispanic American Heritage Month celebration at Walter Reed Bethesda, and Flott wasn't the only member of the Walter Reed Bethesda community moving to their tunes, as Sailors, Soldiers and civilians joined in the festivities.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and Walter Reed Bethesda's celebration, sponsored by the Bethesda Multicultural Committee, was highlighted not only by festive high energy music and dancing, but also Latin American food samples. "Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point of Hispanic Heritage Month because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua," explained Sgt. 1st Class Jason Zielske, chair of the Bethesda Multicultural Committee.
"According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2011 was 52 million, making people of Hispanic origin the nation's largest ethnic or racial minority," Zielske added. "During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate the immeasurable contributions these individuals have made to our nation from its inception to present day."
"I think it's everyone’s responsibility to ensure that cultures across the world are represented in a melting pot which is our United States of America," said U.S. Army Troop Element at Walter Reed Bethesda Command Sgt. Maj. Raul Vizcaino.
"I'm Hispanic, and this is part of my culture," added SHC Maximo Caimaras. "We have to pay tribute and keep the heritage alive."
"My stepdad is Puerto Rican, so I grew up with Hispanic heritage," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Delyn Scott. "I definitely support it; it's part of my family."
Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Maria Fernandez agreed, adding, "I think a better understanding of everyone's culture brings people together. Being able to highlight [various cultures], we do find out we have a lot in common. Once you begin learning about the history of cultures, it make [things] easier to understand."
As an example, the master chief who is a native of Mexico, said it was invaded by the French and Spanish, as well as offering a port city, so it takes its influences from various parts of the world. "That's one of the reasons it's so important for people to realize we have a lot more in common than many realize, and that's for every heritage."
In his proclamation for National Hispanic Heritage Month, President Barack Obama states, "Our nation's story would not be possible without generations of Hispanics who have shaped and strengthened the fabric of our union. They have enriched every aspect of our national identity with traditions that stretch across centuries and reflect the many ancestries that comprise the Hispanic community."
In addition to the performance by the Sol y Rumba band at the Walter Reed Bethesda's National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, the Filipino American Association of Bethesda and GRUFOLPAWA also performed at the event.
For more information about cultural heritage committees and events at Walter Reed Bethesda, call Sgt. 1st Class Jason Zielske at 301-400-2847.