News | Sept. 19, 2016

Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff held in Richmond

By Bonnie Koenig DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Command Support Directorate and the Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Office hosted a Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff ceremony Sept. 16 in the Lotts Conference Center in Richmond, Virginia.

The ceremony featured guest speaker Army Lt. Col. Luis Rodriguez the Exercise Support Division chief, Logistics Exercise and Simulations Directorate, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Lee, Virginia, who spoke on the contributions Hispanics make to our nation and his personal perspectives as a Hispanic American.  

“Every time we celebrate a particular heritage celebration we commemorate another historical event,” said Rodriguez. “Today, I want to bring your attention to the wonderful opportunities that lay ahead in our future.”

“As a member of the armed forces and as a Hispanic officer, I have been very fortunate, but even though I am an American by birth, I did experience discrimination in the early stages of my career as a young officer,” he said. He went on to say that experience transformed him and made him focus on being the best version of himself through education, physical strength, and developing a positive attitude. “When you put your mind and heart into something, nothing can stop you,” said Rodriquez.

He said Hispanic Americans contribute to the fabric of this country and make up 16 percent of the U.S. population. They are owners and workers in construction and agriculture industries and make up 20 percent of the leisure and hospitality industry. “As of 2014, statistics from Military OneSource, Hispanics citizens make up 12 percent of the Armed Forces,” he said. “Hispanics look to America as a land of opportunity and a chance to serve and showcase our talents and culture.”

Rodriquez recognized DLA Aviation employee, Maurice Sanabria, chief, Command Programs Office, Command Support Directorate for submitting the 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month theme: “Embracing, Enriching, and Enabling America.” 

Rodriguez quoted Sanabria’s description of the winning theme and said “We embrace the ideals that founded this nation. We believe in the American dream, in self-determination, in liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We enrich the American culture through diversity, hard work, compassion and unwavering commitment to make this country better than it already is and we enable the greatness of America. Our contributions to the defense of this nation, the arts, sports, public service, research and development, non-profit organization management, civil rights, politics, business, agriculture, and the service industry to enable America to maintain its competitiveness, relevance, and position in the global landscape as the leader of the free world.”

Rodriguez concluded by thanking the Aviation team that helped him this past year when he was deployed to Iraq and Kuwait with last minute emergency aviation repair parts in the fight against ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]. “I don’t know who the Aviation team was that helped me, but I was sending emails and making frantic phone calls requesting parts and you got four helicopter blades on a plane and delivered to us within 72 hours.” he said.

After the event, DLA Aviation employee Wanda Rodriguez, a contract specialist in Supplier Operations Original Equipment Manufacturer Directorate said the guest speaker was a dynamic and hilarious speaker and she enjoyed the program very much. She said she particularly liked when he pointed out the many contributions Hispanics make to this country. She said she also enjoyed when Rodriguez pointed out some other ways Hispanics contribute to the economy by asking questions like, who do you think built your house? Who harvests the vegetables you eat and who cleans your hotel room when you’re traveling?

“It is important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month because it reminds us where we came from, the contributions we make daily to this beautiful nation which I consider my home too,” said [Wanda] Rodriguez. She also said the program offered the opportunity learn about and celebrate together all the different cultures from other Hispanic countries with the information and artifacts that were displayed.

Sanabria read the Presidential Proclamation for this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month and music was performed by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Army Band ‘s First Class Jazz Ensemble from Fort Lee, Virginia. The ceremony concluded with a cake cutting ceremony.

The month-long celebration, from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, will highlight the history, culture, and contributions of American citizens with ancestors from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South American countries. Upcoming events include:

·         Zumba Class, Sept. 23, 1 p.m. in the DSCR Fitness Center

·         Latin-American Coffee Tasting on Sept. 29, from 8 - 10:30 a.m. in the Center Restaurant. All DSCR employees are invited to come sample coffee and learn about different Latin-American coffee-producing countries.

·         Spanish lessons will be conducted in two sessions for registered participants on Oct. 5 and Oct.11 from 11 a.m. – noon in the Jolly Elk Room No. 1 located in the Center Restaurant. Employees can register by emailing Maurice.Sanabria@dla.mil or calling ext. 5032.

·         Tools for Career Advancement seminar will be held Oct. 13, from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. in the McKeever Auditorium.