USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Abraham Lincoln's (CVN 72) Diversity Council hosted music and dancing performances for the crew in the ship's hangar bay, Oct. 16, in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
The ceremony, themed "Many Backgrounds, Many Stories and One American Spirit," included several authentic songs and dances along with storytelling and photo slide shows of Hispanic cultures and traditions.
Master Chief Logistics Specialist Joselito Tolentino started the celebration by performing the national anthem on a Spanish guitar.
"Hispanic-influenced music is great music," said Tolentino. "The music from my culture is a very distinct style of music, and it's what I grew up with."
The celebration was topped off with a dance performance accompanying the song "Black Magic Woman," by Santana.
"Dancing and music are the heart and soul of who we are; they're in our blood," said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Marisol Rodriguez.
First established in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week by President Lyndon Johnson, the celebration was later expanded to cover an annual month-long observation from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Sept. 15 also serves as the anniversary of independence for five Hispanic countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The Hispanic culture has played an integral part in shaping the United States' national character and in creating a diverse environment within our nation's armed forces.
According to the U.S. Census and Bureau Labor of Statistics, Hispanics make up 15.1 percent of the estimated total U.S. population of 301.6 million. In September 2011, the Chief of Naval Operations reported that there were close to 60,000 Hispanic enlisted and officers serving in the Navy, including three flag officers and 158 master chiefs. They have served in the U.S. Navy since the American Revolution and have participated in every subsequent engagement throughout American history. Hispanic Americans have fought and died alongside fellow Sailors, Marines and Soldiers in the constant struggle to support and defend the Constitution, and they have earned prestigious honors, achieved prominent positions and secured their place in United States naval history and heritage.
Since Lincoln's crew is comprised of Sailors from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures, Rodriguez said they are proud to celebrate their diversity by bringing everyone together to share in the crew's rich and varied collective history.
"We are made up of many different personalities, cultures and beliefs," she said. "Our different customs and traditions bring the Lincoln crew together and make us a stronger team, especially when we can celebrate and share that diversity through these performances."
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.