Defense Federal Community celebrates the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans

By Mislin A. Hampton DLA Columbus EEO Hispanic Employment Program, Public Affairs Liaison

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Central Ohio’s Defense Federal Community celebrated its 2017 National Hispanic Heritage Month during a ceremony on Sept. 27 at the Defense Supply Center Columbus. Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime and Defense Finance and Accounting Service Columbus’ Equal Employment Opportunity Offices and the Hispanic Employment Program sponsored the event.

Each year, Americans observe NHHM starting on Sept. 15 by recognizing and honoring the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

This year’s theme was “Shaping the Bright Future of America.” It invited attendees to reflect on the vitality of Hispanic Americans and celebrate their meaningful legacy in the nation’s cultural framework. The National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers announced the theme after considering more than 20 theme submissions.

In her welcoming remarks, DLA Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Adm. Michelle Skubic discussed how Hispanic Americans and Latinos enhance the character of the nation.

“Hispanics contribute to our Nation's success in extraordinary ways – they serve in the military and government, attend schools across America, and strengthen the economy,” she said, quoting former President Barack Obama. “Each day, we see the tremendous impact Hispanics have on our communities, and their enduring truth at the heart of our Nation – no matter where you come from or where your roots are, with hard work and perseverance you can make it in America.”

DLA Land and Maritime associates took part in the ceremony, including Carlos Guzman Perez as master of ceremonies and Angela McCoy’s performance of the national anthem. Ilka Sierra Rodriguez provided the invocation.

Yolanda Zepeda, assistant vice provost for The Ohio State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, was the event’s featured speaker. She covered a broad spectrum of topics by sharing her family background and experiences from an American-Mexican perspective.

As part of her own family history, Zepeda discussed the importance of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo from 1848 that ended the Mexican-American war. After Mexico signed the treaty, residents were given the option to move south to Mexico, or stay in America. More than 90 percent of the residents chose American citizenship.

“They chose America,” she said.

“Hispanic Americans have long played an integral role in America's rich culture. We not only embrace America and its culture, but we also bring our own traditions, culture, language, values, work ethic and ideals to the great American table,” Zepeda said. “Hispanics are not foreigners. Only one-third of Latinos are immigrants. 14 million Hispanics speak only English at home. English is no longer a barrier”

Hispanic Heritage Month runs through Oct. 15. Government ID card holders are welcome to visit a special display located in the main hall of the DLA Land and Maritime Operations Center. This year's exhibit highlights Spanish speaking countries, their flag(s) and capital(s), a place of interest for each nation, interesting facts and cultural artifacts.