SUFFOLK, Va. – Sailors and Department of the Navy (DON) civilians assigned to Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), Naval Network Warfare Command, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet South and Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command came together to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept 29.
This year’s theme "Embracing, Enriching, and Enabling America" represents Hispanic Americans walking together with those who share the honor of calling this nation home.
More than 150 Sailors and DON civilians attended the event, which featured speeches, music, food and fellowship, honoring both the contributions of Hispanics and Hispanic-Americans, as well as the rich Hispanic culture enjoyed by our nation.
Rear Adm. Matthew J. Kohler, commander, NAVIFOR, delivered the ceremony’s opening remarks and introduced the guest speaker.
“I think it is important to remember how key Hispanic culture is to who we are as a people and a nation,” said Kohler. “Today, approximately 55 million people of Hispanic origin live in the United States, comprising more than 15 percent of the total population.”
“Today, Hispanic people and Hispanic culture surround us and enrich us, they make us more diverse, they enable a different perspective, and give and reinforce our nation’s ethos of hard work, compassion, and family values that are bedrocks to success and accomplishment,” said Kohler.
The observation of Hispanic Heritage Month was originally celebrated as Hispanic Heritage Week, established in September 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded the week and created Hispanic Heritage Month to cover a 30-day period.
Hispanic Heritage Month is held annually and recognizes the importance of diversity within our society and in our Navy as well as the many achievements of Hispanic individuals.
Capt. Lourdes Neilan, U.S. Fleet Forces Maritime Operations Center N-6, served as guest speaker for the event held in the Information Warfare Corps Hall of Heroes auditorium in Suffolk.
“As Americans, we work hard to make our country better for all and it shows in our patriotism and compassion for each other and yet proud of our backgrounds,” said Neilan. “It is true America is the land of opportunity, no matter who you are, where you come from, your values or beliefs, we have the freedom to pursue our dreams.”
In closing, Capt. Neilan said, “While we may not feel this way all the time, our contributions everyday through the defense of our nation and our freedom are keeping America great.”
There are more than 57,000 Hispanic Sailors currently serving in the Navy and more than 16,000 Hispanic civilian employees working for the DON. Hispanic individuals make up a total of 15 percent of Navy Sailors, with 2.5 percent serving as flag officers and 11 percent representing the E8-E9 leadership.
The celebration included a guest performance by Chief Jose Marcelo, who entertained the crowd of Sailors and civilians with traditional Hispanic music. This was followed by a sampling of authentic Hispanic dishes for attendees served by members of the Multicultural Committee.
NAVIFOR' s mission is to support operational commanders ashore and afloat by providing combat-ready Information Warfare forces, which are forward deployable, fully trained, properly manned and capably equipped.
For more information on NAVIFOR, visit the command's website at http://www.navidfor.navy.mil, our Navy News web page at http://www.navy.mil/local/navidfor/ or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavyInformationDominanceForces.