EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors, DoD personnel, and civilians celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with a ceremony at the Grand Vista Ballroom on Naval Station Everett (NSE), Oct. 17.
The ceremony opened with Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Enrique L. Torres, leading petty officer of the NSE galley, speaking on the origin of Hispanic Heritage month and both current and past military leaders that represent a legacy of service of Hispanic Americans.
After the presentation Torres' introduced Lillian Ortiz-Self, chairman of the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs and Everett High School counselor, who spoke about the importance of diversity and continuing to support it throughout the community and military personnel.
"We must continue to model for this country what our military forces already know," said Ortiz-Self. "That when we unite for a common cause such as the betterment of our country, our differences matter little, and diversity united and embraced gives us strength... Let's continue to celebrate unity and diversity."
Chief Navy Counselor Aaron Castillo, career counselor stationed on NSE, described what he took out of the ceremony from the guest speakers.
"Perseverance," said Castillo. "I believe that everybody in this country has gone through some sort of adversity whether it's not being wanted or being accepted. I learned from the speakers that you just have to keep moving forward no matter what is against you."
Castillo also spoke on the significance of celebrating Hispanic heritage month, and what it means to not only our country, but also our Navy.
"It's important to celebrate the culture of diversity that we have in the United States Navy, not just Hispanic heritage, but every heritage that we have in the Navy," said Castillo. "It shows we have come a long ways from the humble beginnings of our country, and the Navy is a direct representative of that."
Hispanic Heritage Month first started in 1968 as National Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
The date of Sept. 15 is significant because it is the Independence Day for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days Sept. 16 and Sept. 18 respectively.
Today nearly 70,000 Sailors and civilians of Hispanic heritage are serving in the Navy, making up approximately 11 percent of the Navy's active, Reserve and civilian forces.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.