Story by MCSA Carla Ocampo
Photo by MC3 Benjamin Crossley

Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) came together to recognize Hispanic Americans’ impact on their country and military alike during a ceremony in the ship’s hangar bay Oct. 14.

Stennis’ multi-cultural committee put the ceremony together as a celebration for the contributions Hispanics have made to the U.S. Navy. This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month theme is, “Many backgrounds, many stories…one American spirit.

“I believe we must celebrate and embrace our diversity,” said Lt. j.g. Victor Vasquez, Ship’s Secretary. “It’s what makes us the great force that we are.”

On September 17, 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson designated a week in mid Sept. as National Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988, President Ronal Reagan extended that week to a month long observance Sept.15-Oct.15. The National Hispanic Heritage month is a time for Americans to educate themselves about the influences Hispanic culture has had on society.

“It’s important to recognize different cultures and their contributions,” said Lt. Jose Bautista-Rojas, one of Stennis’ chaplains. “Hispanics have made large contributions to the U.S. Navy since the civil war and there have been many Medal of Honor recipients.”

The event then featured traditional and modern Hispanic music from Merengue to Reggaeton and a brief history lesson on some of the biggest Hispanic contributors to the U.S. Navy.

“This month is very important to us all culturally,” said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 3rd Class (AW/SW) Jose Jaen. “It shows that no matter where you come from, how far you’ve traveled in the Navy, there’s always someone here who has that same pride for your heritage.”

Today there are more than 60,000 Hispanic Americans serving in the U.S. Navy as enlisted Sailors and officers. The multicultural committee gives Sailors a chance to celebrate their culture during the month of October.

“We bring so much more than ourselves to the Navy,” said Bautista-Rojas. “We bring our culture and traditions and make it stronger.”

Celebrations like these can help raise cultural awareness, morale and form bonds between Sailors. The development of these relationships is essential to the Navy’s Maritime Strategy by keeping a team of diverse Sailors who work together to accomplish daily missions.

Advertisements