Honoring Hispanic Heritage at Spangdahlem

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Imani West
  • 52nd Fighter Wing

There are generations of Hispanic and Latino Americans who have not only enriched the history of the United States, but also aided in the successes of the nation. To pay homage, embrace the cultures and promote inclusivity, the nation celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 15 - Oct. 15.

The Department of Defense’s theme for this year's Hispanic Heritage Month is “Unidos: Inclusivity For a Stronger Nation.” The concept focuses on deriving strength from unity, with “unidos” roughly translating to united, joined, or connected.

“We must take advantage of learning about different cultures and mentalities regardless of whether they are hispanic or not,” said Senior Airman Banessa Cervantes Gomez, an active member of the Hispanic Heritage Committee and 52nd Operations Support Squadron airfield management shift lead. “We have a lot of variation in cultures, and it is something extraordinary.”

Cervantes Gomez is a proud Mexican-American. Since the age of 8, she spent most of her life growing up in Chihuahua, Mexico. She later moved to Texas to attend college before joining the ranks of the U.S. Air Force.

“Being in the U.S. military is an excellent opportunity few of us have,” said Cervantes Gomez. “We have the chance to work with people from all over the world every day. Not a lot of people in the world have the opportunity to live this type of experience.”

Hispanic Heritage Month can provide the opportunity for those to share and inform others of their culture while honoring the contributions, influence and achievements of Hispanic and Latino Americans.

“Being proud of where you come from should not be a struggle,” said Cervantes Gomez. “The fact that we decide to represent our country to the best Air Force in the world is cool to me. It’s always good to remember where you come from.”

While Cervantes Gomez uses this time to stay in touch with her culture, she invites everyone to participate in the festivities that occur during the month. Regardless of your cultural background, she says that everyone is welcome to join the celebrations.

“This is my first year celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Cervantes Gomez. “Usually, back at home in Mexico, we celebrate Independence Day, which takes place on the night of September 15. At midnight, we gather at the center area of the city or town we live in and wait for the president and governors to give “el Grito,” revealing Mexican independence. For me, hispanic heritage month is everyday.”

The Department of the Air Force actively promotes a diverse and inclusive environment to help create trust and bonds between coworkers and teammates. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been established to help develop inclusive work environments that promote dignity, respect and values diversity, as well as helping provide information about different heritages and backgrounds.

During this month, service members are encouraged to celebrate where they come from as well as increase an inclusive culture, regardless of race or ethnicity.