Fort Benning’s annual National Hispanic Heritage Month observance will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at Patch Hall.
Like those before it, the celebration will honor Hispanic Americans and their contributions to society. Visitors to past Hispanic heritage observances will notice something different, however.
Typically, observances are held at the Benning Conference Center and require a ticket to enter, said Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Ferreira, but this one is free, located at Patch Hall and part of a new trend for equal opportunity observances on post.
“We’re trying to bring a new vision,” said Ferreira, an EO adviser. “The leadership here in the Installation Equal Opportunity Office is looking at different avenues of approach to capture the full spectrum of ethnic observances — to teach and educate all personnel a little about each race amongst our ranks. The observance is all about education. Hispanic Heritage Month should be for everyone. If we make it a free event in an area that’s large enough, hopefully it will draw the audience we anticipate. As many as we can get — that’s the goal in any observance.”
Ferreira said he expects all observances from this one forward to be free for the Fort Benning community.
The guest speaker will be Lt. Col. Hector Ivan Martinez, director of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation’s School of Specialized Studies.
The theme of the luncheon is “Many Backgrounds, Many Stories, One American Spirit.” “Within our Soldiers, we have many diversified individuals from all around the world,” Ferreira said. “Society as whole is made up of many diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. Each background comes with its own values, beliefs and traditions. This brings uniqueness to each individual and the stories we all tell.”
El Zapata will cater the event with a variety of Hispanic dishes. Entertainment includes Latin-inspired music by Son Tropical, a Columbus-based band, and a “thank-you” poem and song by Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School choir.
Patch Hall is located on the corner of Baltzell Avenue and Lumpkin Road. For more information, contact your unit equal opportunity adviser or call 706-545-3196 or 706-545-3197.