YORKTOWN,Va (NNS) -- Naval Weapons Station (WPNSTA) Yorktown struck a chord with the theme "Energizing Our Nation's Diversity" at the celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 23, at Nelson Chapel.
Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15, covering the anniversary of independence of several Latin American countries and Columbus Day.
"Ever since John Adams established our Colonial Navy, Latinos, Hispanics and Chicanos have served our country with distinction," said MM2(SS) Gabriel Baltezar, Master of Ceremonies for the celebration. "It can be said that the path to democracy in the United States was forged through the blood, sweat and tears of our immigrant population who came to America with hopes of a better tomorrow."
According to the Navy History and Heritage Command, the U.S. Navy recognizes the service of nearly 70,000 Sailors and civilians of Hispanic heritage who comprise approximately 11 percent of our active, reserve and civilian forces. National studies point out that in three decades, minority children born today will constitute the majority in the United States.
"We all have a big responsibility to the new racial majority of Americans," said Dr. Jorge Yinat, guest speaker at WPNSTA Yorktown's Hispanic Heritage program. Yinat, a 28 year veteran of the United States Army, served in many overseas assignments and combat tours, including Operations Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is currently the president and CEO of James Williams, York & Company, the only Hispanic business & management consulting firm in Hampton Roads.
"The new waves of American minorities will need all of us to guide them, coach them, inspire them and point them in the right direction," he continued. "It is our time now to reach out to the new generation, because our efforts in the development of individuals coming from all walks of life will translate into the betterment of our American society as a whole."
Thirty-nine Hispanics serving in the United States Navy were awarded the Medal of Honor, which is more than any other identifiable ethnic group. The story of the hard working immigrant family parallels the Navy's core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.
"Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work and service," Baltezar said. "They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries old traditions that reflect the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural customs of their community."
"We are all Americans and we are in this journey of the American experience together," Yinat concluded. "Immigrants, minorities and foreigners will continue to greatly contribute to our Nation and our Nation will become richer, more vibrant and more economically successful because of our efforts and sacrifices."
For more news from Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, visit www.navy.mil/local/nwsyorktown/.