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News | Oct. 6, 2021

Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Maurice Sanabria-Ortiz

By DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated across the nation every year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The 2021 HHM observance theme “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope,” celebrates Hispanic heritage and reflects on how great our tomorrow can be if we hold onto our resilience and hope. It encourages us to reflect on all past contributions Hispanics made and will continue to make in the future.  It is also a reminder that we are stronger together.

DLA Aviation is honored to highlight Hispanic Americans who work daily to provide logistics support to America’s warfighters and other federal customers.

My name is: Maurice Sanabria-Ortiz

I am:  a customer support branch chief in DLA Aviation’s Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate in Richmond, Virginia.

How long have you worked for DLA? I have been working for DLA for 10 years.

What does the 2021 Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? Hispanic Heritage Month means a lot to me, since it is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of the Latino community to this country. Not just in the military, where we have fought many wars as soldiers of the United States, but also in science, academia, law, and many other areas.

What misconception about your heritage or country of origin would you like to correct? I was born in the United States from Puerto Rican parents and raised in Puerto Rico. One thing that really surprised me is the fact that a lot of Americans don’t know that Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States (since 1898). We are born U.S. citizens, and Puerto Ricans have served in the military services and fought with other U.S. service members since World War I.

Tell us something unique about your heritage, country of origin or family traditions. We love the Christmas season. It is the longest Christmas celebration that I know of. We officially start our celebrations the day after Thanksgiving, and it will continue for eight days after the nativity celebration (Three Kings Day) on January 6. We celebrate both Santa Claus and the Three Kings Day. The kids cut grass and put it under the Christmas tree for the camels that are coming from far away to bring presents to the kids.

In regard to this year’s HHM observance theme, “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope,” what do you consider the most important cultural value for you and for those close to you? One cultural value that I would like to pass to my grandchildren is integrity and great work ethics. Regarding traditions, I would like to pass the language, the music and the food. We are a family of musicians who play traditional genres from Puerto Rico.

Tell us a little-known fact that most people do not know about you. My son, Maurice “Tito” Sanabria, also a branch chief with DLA Aviation and my wife, also a DLA employee, and I founded a band named Kadencia Orchestra. The band promotes and promulgates Afro Puerto Rican genres (Bomba, Plena and salsa) music that originated on the sugar cane plantations of the island. We have played our music at musical festivals, universities and museums including the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Memorial, Richmond Folk Festival and many others. We are currently recording our second musical production.

How important is it to you that Defense Logistics Agency Aviation recognize this month? It means the world to me, since it recognizes that Hispanics (Latinos) have been sacrificing for this country and we still have a lot to give. Let’s think on the things that unite us, not the things that separate us. We love our families and we are working for a better tomorrow.

What do you want the DLA Aviation workforce to take away from celebrating this observance month? I would like DLA Aviation workforce to take away from celebrating the Hispanic Heritage month that people from different backgrounds could work together as a nation for a better tomorrow for our next generations. Esperanza means hope in Spanish; like my grandmother used to say, the last thing that you lose is the hope.