BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) staff members filled the quarterdeck Oct. 12 to celebrate "Diversity United, Building America's Future Today," this year's Hispanic American Heritage Month theme.
The recognition ceremony was filled with vibrant decorations, 'ballet folklorico' performances from youthful dancers, and ample songs, speeches, and foods.
"I have been in the Navy for 15 years and this is the first Hispanic Heritage celebration I have seen because of operational tempo and it's an honor to be a part of it," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SCW) Eduardo Navarro, NHB Medical Services directorate leading petty officer, first generation Mexican-American, diversity council member and master of ceremonies for the celebration.
"It's a national theme of diversity and I hope others can appreciate the culture and the contributions of all the Americans that trace their roots from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America."
"This is one of the most exciting events of the year. I'm very excited to be a part of this ceremony today. We have a rich naval history of Hispanic heritage which includes Adm. Farragut, the Secretary of the Navy, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower Affairs and several other very distinct members within our Hispanic heritage serving in the Navy," said NHB Director for Administration Cmdr. Brendan Melody.
"It is a privilege to support the military. My heart goes out to all of you who serve our nation," said Director of Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center Martitha May, one of the event guest speakers.
"The purpose of our center is to provide support for a multicultural climate by assisting immigrants to be contributing members of our community. We also support multi-ethnic community events such as this."
May then introduced the Nobleza Folklorica children dancers who entertained the audience with five dances including La Raspa, Las Chapaletas, and Machetes.
Not to be outdone by the talented dancers of Nobleza Folklorica, Naval Branch Health Clinic (NBHC) Bangor Diversity Council members showcased their talents with Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW) Jason Span performing a dance from the Don Quixote ballet and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF) Julian Rodriguez performed El Sube Y Baja (The Teeter Totter) and El Circo (The Circus) on the accordion.
After the performances and presentations, the audience was treated to authentic Hispanic dishes such as pozole (chicken soup with hominy), pulled pork, Spanish rice, flan, and Mexican pastries along with barbecue ribs.
"My favorite was the pozole," said Rodriguez. "It was very authentic. I felt right at home."
Hispanic Heritage Month began as Hispanic American Heritage Week by then-President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. It was later expanded to a monthlong celebration from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
"The observances from September to October such as Independence Day, Dio De Los Muertos, most of our holidays and beliefs come across during that time period. It is ideal that the Hispanic heritage month celebration happen during this time period," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Elizabeth Ramos, NHB Orthopedics leading petty officer, assistant diversity officer, main coordinator for the celebration, and second generation Mexican-American.
"Like all of our diversity council celebrations, I hope people learn something new about other heritage and I hope they have fun."
For more news from Naval Hospital Bremerton, visit www.navy.mil/local/nhb/.