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Hispanic-American service celebrated

Hispanic Heritage Month luncheon

Master Sgt. Liz Duran, 96th Logistics Readiness Squadron, serenades the audience with Mariachi songs at the Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta luncheon Sept. 19 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The observance runs through Oct. 15. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kevin Gaddie)

Hispanic Heritage Month luncheon

Master Sgt. Sergio Garcia, 96th Force Support Squadron, and his wife, Danielle, entertain the audience as they dance to Latin music at the Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta luncheon Sept. 19 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The observance runs through Oct. 15. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kevin Gaddie)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE Fla. --

A Hispanic Heritage Month luncheon was held here Sept. 19.  This year’s theme is “Hispanic Americans: A History of Serving Our Nation.”

Lunch consisted of Latin dishes from the base community, judged in a “Present Your Country’s Best” cook-off.

The guest speaker was Chief Master Sgt. Carlos Fajardo, 33rd Maintenance Group.

The chief recognized Master Sgts. Luis Deleon-Figueroa and Jose Gonzalez from the 7th Special Forces Group, who were recently killed while serving in Afghanistan, among the many Hispanic Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Hispanics have served in every major armed conflict of the United States, dating back to the American Revolution,” Fajardo said.  “We have served with courage, gallantry, and devotion to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

He said 1.1 million Hispanic Americans currently serve in the Armed Forces.  Of the Air Force’s 327,000-plus service members, 15 percent are Hispanic Americans.  Sixty-one Hispanic American service members were awarded the Medal of Honor, he added.

Fajardo ended his speech by listing three qualities Hispanic American service members demonstrate.

“The first is uniformity, because we continue to display bravery and commitment with the unparalleled consistency and sameness we share with our peers,” he said.  “Next is unanimity, because we subscribe to freedom and democracy with an unyielding consensus of loyalty to our country, and within the Air Force to our guiding light, our core values.

The last quality was unity.

“Whether in the military or throughout the community, the biggest strength of mankind lies in its unwavering unity.  We are a family and a family doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be united.”

Other Hispanic Heritage Month events include Latin dance lessons, a soccer tournament, bilingual reading sessions at the Child Development Centers and a dance social.  For more information, call 882-8808.