JB MDL celebrates diversity during Hispanic Heritage Month

By 1st Lt Jaclyn Sumayao | Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs | Oct. 8, 2019


Each year, the United States recognizes a month long celebration from September 15th through October 15th as the Hispanic Heritage Month. An event was hosted by the Hispanic Heritage Committee to honor the heritage month at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Oct. 4.

The celebration focused on educating Joint Base MDL about the diversity and contributions of Hispanic men and women. The “Museum of Countries” display highlighted all 21 Hispanic countries with committee members representing their respective country, answering attendees’ questions and offering samples of popular traditional snacks and drinks.

“It’s not just about the food or what language we speak, it’s about coming together and learning from each other,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Janet Hinton, Hispanic Heritage Committee co-chairman.  “I’ve learned so much about other Hispanic countries through hosting this event, it made me realize how we are so similar yet have many different traditions and customs.”

Guest speaker Dr. Olga Vaca Durr, wife of U.S. Army Col Charles Durr, shared her experiences growing up as a Hispanic-American. Dr. Durr stressed the importance of education from her parents as a fourth generation Hispanic-American, becoming the first in her family to attain a doctorate while being married to a military member.

“Hispanics are often generalized into one cluster, when we actually have so much variety,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Briana Cespedes, Hispanic Heritage Committee co-chairman. “Many people don’t know there are 21 Hispanic countries, which were represented in this event, so it’s important to have awareness of the diversity and cultures within this community.”

The event ended with a live band, “Viva Vallenato Cumbia,” showcasing Colombian folk music.  Guests along with committee members gathered on the dance floor to enjoy the entertainment.

 “I am a Latina, born and raised in Ecuador…an immigrant myself,” said Hinton. “I want to teach my young daughter who was born here in America, that it is important to know where we came from and remember who we are.”