ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) held a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration on the ship's mess decks, Sept. 15.
The celebration was held in commemoration of the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. According to the official Hispanic Heritage month website, the observation began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and was later expanded by President Ronald Reagan on Aug. 17, 1988. The website also notes the significance of Sept. 15 as the day Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua gained their independence.
During the ship's ceremony, the mixed crowd of Sailors and Marines were treated to a brief lesson in Hispanic history, dance performances from two Bataan Sailors, three key note speakers and cake cutting ceremony.
Chief Boatswain's Mate Jesus Lopez, one of the keynote speakers of the night's events explained.
"There was a lot of struggle for many of the Hispanics that came before us," he explained. "Remembering their struggles and sacrifices helps us know where we came from, and also helps us to shape and mold our future."
Chief Information Systems Technician Carlos Moreira, born and raised in El Salvador, said during his speech at the ceremony that he learned much more about the different Hispanic cultures other than his El Salvadorian roots after joining the Navy and being stationed in Florida.
Bataan Heritage Committee Coordinator Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) Hawa Riley said the ceremony, and the others like it, serve as just another reminder of how diversity plays such a big role in today's Navy.
"It is very important we celebrate heritage from around the world because today's Navy consists of all colors, cultures and people of the world, and [the ceremony] serves as another way to educate or cross train on cultural, observances and remembrance," she said. "The Navy should continue to celebrate all people. To my Hispanic Sailors and Marines... the Heritage committee celebrates with you and thanks you for your services."
The Bataan, Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit are on a regular scheduled deployment in support of U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from USS Bataan (LHD 5), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd5/.