NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- "When you ask people to think of a Hispanic, it's hard to conclude what type of a face you would actually think about," said Lt. Nelson Guadalupe to an audience of more than 400 Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (NSGB) residents had gathered at Philips Dive Park, Oct. 14, to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.
"We are a people of many backgrounds, of many faces, of many cultures. We're from Europe, Africa, Asia, and it's touched the lives and influenced all of Latin and South America," said Guadalupe, a dietitian stationed at Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay. "That is why this month is so important. Not to celebrate our differences, but to celebrate our commonality."
Every year, from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, is National Hispanic Heritage Month. The observance is intended to recognize the ways Hispanics have influenced American culture throughout the nation's history.
During the celebration, a fashion show was held, showing the similarities and differences among 10 Hispanic countries: Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, Venezuela, and the U.S territory of Puerto Rico.
"We had a fashion show [representing] all the different cultures and their flags ... the traditional clothing and the hats that every country [has] that makes them unique," said a Sailor serving with Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO). "We came together to celebrate each other. That's very important because we all learn from each other. We learn different languages. We learn different cultures, different mannerisms. It does matter, because it represents you. It represents where you come from."
The underlying theme of the event was the celebration of the shared traits from the various countries.
"We all have similar traditions and values. Our food makes us different. Our music makes us different," said a naval officer serving with JTF-GTMO. "We all speak the same language, Spanish, yet every single one of us [has] a different accent."
There were singers and musicians performing songs from many different genres, as well dancers performing a wide range of dance, from the tango to Latin fusion.
"We enrich each other's cultures by doing [events] like this," said Cmdr. Dennis Mojica, executive officer. "These events just bring people together."
Events like this are designed to celebrate where the participants came from and, according to one participant, they should also serve to remind everyone who they are.
"We really should all be coming together to really celebrate our commonality ... all of our cultures, all of our ethnicities," said Guadalupe. "But remember ... our nationality is American. We are Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen. This month should teach us about how our history has been influenced by those of Hispanic descent."
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