LOS ANGELES -- Every year the United States commemorates Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District celebrated Hispanic Americans Sept. 20 with a luncheon and presentation by guest speaker Arturo Pacheco-Vega, Ph.D, Professor for Engineering, Computer Science and Technology, California State University, Los Angeles.
“It’s our duty to have our population participate in events that will develop our country,” said Pacheco-Vega. “Having collaborations between our institutions is extremely important because we need to develop the human resources that are in our Hispanic heritage.”
Pacheco-Vega, who comes from a family of five engineers, told his story of moving to the United States and his parents’ emphasis on education, hard work and discipline.
“My parents told us we work hard and we don’t plan to leave you a house or money, but we will leave you with the gift of an education,” Pacheco-Vega said.
The presentation included examples of key Hispanic contributions throughout history to include gastronomy, religion, music and STEM or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Pacheco-Vega highlighted the Mayan civilization with contributions in Astronomy and the movement of planets, and in math with the concept of zero.
“Imagine with what we know today and the possibilities that began because of these contributions,” Pacheco-Vega said. “The Aztecs built engineering marvels like pyramids and entire civilizations.”
The theme for the 2018 Hispanic Heritage Month Observance is “One Endless Voice to Enhance Our Traditions.”
Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15, the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. This month also encompasses Mexico’s Independence Day on Sept. 16 and Chile’s Independence Day on Sept. 18.
Donald Lank, Equal Employment Opportunity, emphasized the importance of having discussions with key members of the community during an observance.
“Dr. Pacheco-Vega serves as an example of the Hispanic community who has excelled and persevered as demonstrated though his life story,” Lank said.
Hispanic Heritage U.S. Army Facts:
Today more than 136K Hispanic Americans serve in the Total Force. Hispanic Soldiers now make up 13.8 percent of the Army.
More than 20K Hispanics fought on both sides in the U.S. Civil War.
In 2014, the 65th Infantry Regiment—a unit of soldiers who were mostly from Puerto Rico and were known as Los Borinqueneers—received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor.
More than 40 Hispanic American Soldiers have been presented with the Medal of Honor, our country’s highest military decoration. In 1919, Pvt. David Bennes Barkley was the first Hispanic Soldier to be (posthumously) awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions in WWI.
“The Hispanic community is growing so fast in this country and I believe the country would benefit from engaging more with us,” Pacheco-Vega said. “The people in the Hispanic community are not only hard working but also extremely smart and if they are engaged they are going to give back to the country tremendously.”
For more information about how Hispanic Americans are serving in the Army visit: https://www.army.mil/hispanics/.