Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz --
There is no race in the Marine Corps; there is only green. Like America, the Marine Corps is a “melting pot” of ethnicities and culture functioning as one.
Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, is a recognition of the culture, contributions and heritage of Hispanic Americans in the Marine Corps.
Sept. 15 was chosen in 1986 by President Lyndon B. Johnson because it is the anniversary of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Nicaragua also declared independence on Sept. 15, 1838. Mexico and Chile both celebrate their independence in the month of September as well.
“The Marine Corps does an excellent job not only recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month, but all ethnicities serving in the Marine Corps,” said Maj. Michael D. Gonzalez, aviation supply officer for MALS-13.
“I believe it is important for the Corps to celebrate these events to illustrate that even though the Corps is made up of numerous ethnic, religious and social economic backgrounds,” said Gonzalez. “We still function with one spirit, one heart and one mind, while still being able to recognize our various heritages.”
Everyone celebrates their heritage in different ways at different times and for different reasons.
“Personally I celebrate my heritage everyday. I don’t need a month to really dedicate myself because that’s how I was brought up, to be proud and celebrate who you are everyday,” said Cpl. Lizaida Pagan, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13, Individual Material Readiness List section.
“It’s really something to be proud of -- to see what privileges we have now and what we did back then,” said Pagan. “It brings my morale up because I am proud to be Hispanic and live the way I do and how I want to.”
The same pride that some people feel for their heritage is similar to what they feel as Marines.
“Marines can feel they are part of an elite organization, a special family, but do not have to sacrifice, bury or hide their roots,” said Gonzalez. “The Corps embraces the diversity that all Marines bring to the table and uses them as a force multiplier for mission accomplishment.”
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Mess Hall hosted a luncheon Sept. 18 featured a variety of Hispanic dishes including enchiladas, chicken fajitas, tacos, burritos and more.
Also, Friday at the Yuma Main Street Plaza from 5-11 p.m. is the 32nd annual Hispanic Heritage celebration. This event includes Mariachis, Folkloric Dancers, Salsa music, food booths and more.
Along with NHHM, the nation has established ‘observance periods’ to commemorate the different ethnicities throughout the Marine Corps. February is African American History Month, May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and November is National Native American Indian Heritage Month.
“I think events such as these gives Marines a time to reflect on our history as a Corps,” said Gonzalez. When Marines do that, they see that Marines of all ethnic backgrounds have contributed to the Corps’ success in peace and war time.”