PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) participated in a Hispanic-American Heritage celebration on the barge mess decks Oct. 13.
The event, sponsored by Truman's Heritage Cultural Committee (HCC), was part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed Sept. 15 - Oct. 15.
Capt. Tushar R. Tembe, Truman's commanding officer, began the event with a cake-cutting ceremony and reminded Sailors about the importance of celebrating cultural diversity.
"The cake itself is symbolic," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Jose Arsenault, who helped make the cake. "The different flavored layers, and the flags of all of the Hispanic countries on it, help to remind people that the Hispanic community is not just any one country, but a lot of people from different countries who share a language and at least some common culture."
Arsenault said he is proud to be in a country and be part of an organization that embraces other cultures.
"I have seen stronger and more meaningful recognition of diversity each year in my 10 years in the Navy, and I expect that to continue into the future," said Arsenault.
Truman's HCC promotes similar events for other cultural backgrounds throughout the year, which is important for cultural awareness, pride and morale, said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Darryl Carr, chairman of the HCC.
"One reason we do this sort of thing is because we embrace all nationalities and cultures in the Navy," said Carr. "It is important for us all to embrace all of our cultural backgrounds and to allow people to show pride in their heritage."
Though Truman is currently undergoing a docked planned incremental availability (DPIA), it is still important to continue to take time out to celebrate heritage and diversity, said Carr.
"I am very thankful and proud for our opportunity to be able to keep up our tradition of having these celebrations," said Carr.
According to the Library of Congress, Hispanic American Heritage Month started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and expanded to a 30-day period under President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
Truman is undergoing DPIA at Norfolk Naval Shipyard for maintenance and refurbish shipboard systems. Truman is scheduled to return the fleet in the summer of 2012.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.