JBER celebrates Hispanic heritage

Food, festivities mark observance


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Air Force Staff Sergeant Yanet Hernandez serves Hispanic style food to guests and their children following the official portion of the 2012 National Hispanic Heritage Month Oct. 12 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Matthew E. Winstead

Soldiers and Airmen gathered together inside Hangar 1 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Oct. 12 to recognize the contributions made by the Hispanic community in the course of American history.

The event is an annual coordinated effort between the Army and Air Force equal opportunity offices on JBER as a capstone event to National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The national observance is part of an official proclamation approved by Congress and signed into law by the president officially assigning Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as the period of Hispanic heritage awareness.

The Movers and Shakers children’s dance team from the Kennecott Youth/Teen Center performed a choreographed dance number and dazzled the crowd with their hip-hop style dance moves.

They were followed by Pro Bono Coordinator for Alaska Legal Services Eric Cordero Giorgana, who was born in Mexico and became an American citizen, and served as the guest speaker for the event.

“I didn’t realize just how diverse America was until I got here,” Giorgana said. “This nation derives its strength from its diversity and you represent the finest of that blending,” he said, addressing the service members in the audience.

Giorgana highlighted numerous contributions of the Hispanic community over the years that have bettered the American people, such as courageous service to the U.S. military and helping to shape the American workforce and contributing to industry that has helped to strengthen the fabric of our nation.

“I was actually speechless when I got the invitation to be the guest speaker for today’s event. It is a tremendous honor.” Giorgana said. “And, if there’s one other thing that the Hispanic community is well known for, it would be great food.”

Following Giorgana’s remarks, the guests in attendance were treated to a bounty of Hispanic foods to include chicken and beef flautas, spicy cheese queso and nacho chips, Spanish-style rice and handmade guacamole, all served by Soldiers and Airmen.

One of the volunteer servers, Air Force Staff Sgt. Yanet Hernandez, a diet technician with the 673d Medical Support Squadron, handed out food to the guests as they came by the serving line and expressed her joy in being able to assist with such an event.

“I’m very happy to be a part of something like this,” she said. “I’m Hispanic myself and I really hope that everyone, especially the kids are able to take something away from today. I mean, what’s better than a culture with great food?”

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