Defense federal community celebrates the contributions of Hispanic Americans

By Mislin A. Hampton, DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs Liaison DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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A ceremony recognizing National Hispanic Heritage Month took place inside the auditorium at Defense Supply Center Columbus’ Operations Center Sept. 28.  The event was sponsored by the Defense Federal Community Equal Employment Opportunity Hispanic Employment Program

 Each year, Americans observe NHHM from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 by celebrating 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 “Hispanic Americans: Embracing, Enriching, and Enabling America.” It highlights the contributions of Hispanic Americans to our nation in many fields, honors their sacrifices, and recognizes their hard work in achieving their goals.

In his welcoming remarks, DLA Land and Maritime Acting Commander James McClaugherty discussed how the contributions of Hispanic Americans make the United States a more vibrant, and richer country. 

“Hispanic Americans represent 18% of the U.S. population, and will continue to grow,” McClaugherty said. “Many of them work with us here at DLA and are an important part of our agency.”

During the event, the audience heard from two special guest speakers, including Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Tamara Gonzales, a technical quality business process analyst at Land and Maritime, and Army Maj. Claudio Garcia-Castro, a logistics officer for the Ohio Army National Guard.  

Gonzales also serves as a 1st Sgt. in the 121st Air Refueling Wing at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus.  She is responsible for the morale, welfare, and conduct of all enlisted members in the Air Refueling Wing.

 “I am very proud to say that we bring the ideas of our grandparents,” Gonzales said. “They told us how to embrace change, and how to enrich American culture though hard work and education, and bring greatness to this nation. 

My grandmother taught me how to overcome adversities, and embrace failures in order to succeed.”

Both speakers remarked about the way Hispanic Americans embrace, enrich, and enable this great nation, while honoring their past. Garcia-Castro was born in Matamoros, Mexico and immigrated to Ohio with his parents at a young age. 

 “I stand here today proud to be a major in the U.S. Army and reflect on what my father has always said - no matter who you are, what you are, or what you do in life, be proud and do your best,” Garcia-Castro said. “I look back on myself as a young boy who came to America unable to speak English and unable to understand the American culture. 

I am honored to call myself an American and happy to have retained many of the Mexican traditions I grew up with.”