Charlotte Richter | Staff Writer
The Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth hosted the National Hispanic Heritage Month luncheon featuring guest speaker Command Sgt. Maj. Mildred E. Lara Gonzales, an instructor at the School for Command Preparation, Sept. 22 at the Frontier Conference Center.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to signify the independence days of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico and Chile. The observance recognizes the history and accomplishments by people of Hispanic and Latino heritage. It was enacted in 1988 by President Ronald Regan to expand on a weeklong recognition created in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson.Lara Gonzalez centered her speech on the celebration of music, food and family in Hispanic culture. She also referenced the Hispanic population in the military, a share of 16 percent in which 60 of those service members have received the Medal of Honor.
“It is that beauty of diversity that Hispanics bring to the world,” Lara Gonzalez said. “I love how my heritage and culture binds us all, Hispanic or not, and brings joy… and hope.”
Lara Gonzalez’s remarks corresponded with the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers chosen observance month theme, “Esperanza, A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.”
Lara Gonzales shared a definition of hope with the story of her family immigrating from Honduras to Boston, Mass., when she was 14 years old.
“My family moved to the land of the free in the hopes to have a better life for us all,” Lara Gonzalez said.
She said she credits her family, specifically her parents and aunt, as resilient role models in her life and for instilling the values she learned growing up.
“My parents gave me an opportunity that was filled with hope when I came to the United States, encouraging good character and that consistency in hard work will pay off… and, man, it has,” Lara Gonzalez said. “Going forward, I hope to continue to inculcate the values that I grew up with, that so seamlessly blend with the Army values, to my sons and Army family and pray that I can be just a fraction of the greatness my mom is and aunt was, may she rest in peace. The Army is in the people business, and let me tell you that the love my Hispanic heritage brings truly embodies that sentiment.