NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed September 15th to October 15th each year. This year’s theme is Unidos – Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation. Unidos means united, connected, or close – the concept of strength through togetherness that has been a driving force in DOD’s quest for inclusivity and equal opportunity.
To honor Hispanic Heritage Month, DLA Distribution EEO has put together the attached newsletter with articles on inclusion and diversity, the United Farm Workers Union, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, League of United Latin American Citizens, and an employee spotlight on DLA Distribution San Joaquin’s Guillermo Urrea.
Hispanic and Latino Americans currently comprise 17 percent of active duty military and 8 percent of the DOD civilian workforce. Their service in the U.S. military includes struggles as well as triumphs. During World War I, just shortly after the Spanish American War, Hispanic and Latino soldiers were heavily discriminated against. Still, those who chose to serve their country fought bravely. Many Hispanic warfighters earned distinction during World War I, including Private David Barkley Cantu, who earned a Medal of Honor, and Marcelino Serna, the first Hispanic or Latino to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross when he singlehandedly captured 24 German soldiers. During World War II, General MacArthur called a primarily Hispanic and Latino unit, the 159th Regimental Combat Team, “the greatest combat fighting team ever deployed for battle.”
The 141st Infantry Regiment was one of the most decorated units of World War II, whose Company E was made up entirely of soldiers of Hispanic descent. During the Korean War, the Presidential Unit Citation and the Meritorious Unit Commendation were awarded to a Puerto Rican unit known as the Borinqueneers, the 65th Regimental Combat Team. While the Pentagon didn’t officially keep track of how many Hispanic Americans served in Vietnam, it’s estimated that over 80,000 did … and thirteen Latinos were awarded the Medal of Honor. By the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2011, 12 percent of the entire U.S. Armed Forces and nearly 15 percent of the U.S. Marine Corps were Hispanic. Today, Latinas are one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in the military.
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we pay tribute to the generations of Hispanics who have enriched our nation. I encourage you all to keep in mind what Guillermo Urrea suggests … “Be aware that all cultures are unique and different and there are open doors for new experiences.” When we capitalize on the strengths of a multi-cultural workforce, their diverse experiences and perspectives bolster our ability to serve the Warfighter. We truly are stronger together.