Food, dance featured at Virginia National Guard Hispanic Heritage Month celebration

Dancers from Ballet Folklorico Mi Herencia Mexicana from Fairfax County, Va., perform at the Virginia National Guard’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration Sept. 8, 2012 at Fort Pickett, Va. The event was hosted by the Virginia National Guard’s Equal Opportunity Office and, in addition to the dancers, included food from Acapulco’s Mexican Grill in Blackstone. (Photo by Sgt. 1st A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s Equal Opportunity Office hosted a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration Sept. 8, 2012 at Fort Pickett, Va. National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed every year from Sept. 15- Oct. 15 and celebrates the history, culture and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The event at Fort Pickett included dancers from Ballet Folklorico Mi Herencia Mexicana in Fairfax County and food from Acapulco’s Mexican Grill in Blackstone as well as information about famous Hispanic Americans and their role in our history.

“The dancers were great,” said Capt. Kervin Sider, the state Equal Opportunity officer. “They are demonstrating part of their culture and that was something new to me and I’m sure it was new to other people as well.”

Sixteen percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic or Latino, making it the fastest growing minority in the U.S., according to the 2010 U.S. census. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“Events like this are valuable because they give Soldiers great awareness of other cultures, their foods and everyday lifestyles,” said Sgt. Dustyn Carpenter of the 276th Engineer Battalion, who was on hand for the event.

The main reason for holding events such as these is to educate the force, Sider explained.

“Depending on where you grew up, you may not have really been exposed to other cultures,” he said.

“So it’s about educating people about groups they may not have had a lot of contact with and raise their knowledge level.”

Sixteen percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic or Latino, making it the fastest growing minority in the U.S., according to the 2010 U.S. census.

In addition, 1.2 million Hispanic Americans have served in the U.S. military and 44 of them are Medal of Honor recipients.

“We’ve got about 220 Soldiers who are Hispanic or Latino descent in the Virginia Army National Guard,” said Sider. “It’s not a large percentage but the group of people is there and we want to let people know about everything they’ve contributed to our society and teach some about the culture.”


To view photos from the event, visit:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157631498293754/with/7970675970/