Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall community members gathered in the Community Center Sept. 26 to observe Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 every year and recognizes the cultures, tradition, and heritage Americans of Hispanic origins coming from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central, and South America.

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Commander Col. Kimberly A. Peeples, welcomed the community to the observance, and highlighted some of the history of how Hispanic Americans have been a part of the U.S. Army.

“America’s Hispanic sons and daughters have not hesitated to show their allegiance to and defend their nation in military service,” Peeples said. “From the War of 1812 to the most recent conflicts, our nation’s history is full of examples of brave Hispanic men and women who have answered the call to arms.”

Today, 136,000 Hispanic Soldiers make up 13.8 percent of the Army. Fifteen percent of the Army’s enlisted personnel and 18 percent of enlisted personnel in the Marine Corps are Hispanic. Over 60 Hispanic Americans have received the Medal of Honor.

Peeples welcomed retired Lt. Col. Jose O. Torres as the event’s guest speaker. Torres was commissioned as an Army officer from the University of Puerto Rico and now works as a senior information analyst with the Department of the Army Chief Information Officer in the Pentagon.

Torres spoke about how in the face of social issues Hispanics may face in America today, their people, traditions, and culture have influenced America.

“We are such a great melting pot that has done so much for this country,” he said. “Every time Hispanics are recognized, we continue to add up to the many achievements and contributions we have made to this great nation. And we have done some pretty amazing contributions.”

After his remarks, sister performing duo “The Gracie and Lacy Show” tap danced and sang songs of Hispanic influence to the audience as the crowd clapped along.

The afternoon finished with people mingling over a food sampling from Chevys.

The observance was more than a festive afternoon. It served as a reminder to the community the importance of diversity and how it makes the country and the Army better.

“Hispanics past and present have played a role in our armed forces serving our nation with great loyalty and sense of duty, Peeples said. “Through their outstanding contribution, they have done their part to help shape and build our military and our nation.”

Pentagram Staff Writer Abigail Kelly can be reached at akelly@ dcmilitary.com.