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Speaker highlights Hispanic diversity

“Diversity,” said COL Glenn Huber, guest speaker at the Hispanic Heritage Month Luncheon, “is what we should celebrate most.

“Given a term that applies to such a vast geographical area and to hundreds of millions of people, ‘Hispanic’ is the epitome of diversity.”

Fort Benning Soldiers and civilians celebrated the diversity of the Hispanic people at the annual observance Tuesday, hosted by the Equal Opportunity Office. National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

“The term ‘Hispanic,’ as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, refers to Spanish speaking people in the United States of any race,” said COL Huber, commandant of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. “By 2009, it was estimated that more than 48.4 million people identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino.”

WHINSEC comprises many Hispanic countries, said LTC Henry Santiago, the unit’s chief for the Commandant Action Group.

These include the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Brazil and his home country of Puerto Rico, he said.

While the celebration was in honor of Hispanic heritage, LTC Santiago said it is important to recognize everybody’s unique background.

“People benefit from knowing and understanding everyone’s culture,” he said. “The more we spend time working together, sharing experiences, the easier it gets to handle any situation you may encounter in the future. We all contribute to the success of this nation.”

This is particularly true in the military, said Selby Rollinson, deputy chief of staff for the Maneuver Center of Excellence.

“Every U.S. Army Soldier, civilian and family member has a different background, culture and thought process from which he or she can draw,” he said.

“When these separate differences are combined and work together, it contributes to an adaptive, culturally astute Army that further enhances our capabilities around the world.”

Hispanic-Americans have served in all U.S. wars and conflicts, beginning with the American Revolution, COL Huber said.

“Not only (that), they demonstrate a high propensity for military service,” he said.

“They have earned more Medals of Honor per capita of any identifiable group. An indicator of the integrity of a group of people is their willingness to serve others, and people of Hispanic heritage have gallantly served our nation and its military forces throughout history.”